Good Earth

Starbucks works with farmers to ensure sustainable coffee production

10:22 SGT December 12, 2017
Starbucks
As coffee continues to brew up success in Asia, research firm Mintel reveals that the ‘third wave’ of coffee movement is likely to propel this further

As defined by Mintel, the ‘third wave’ coffee movement is taking coffee appreciation a step further, focusing intensely on where beans are sourced and how they are roasted, with a renewed focus on brewing methods.

But knowing the origins also means enquiring if these beans are ethically sourced, prompting coffee retailers such as Starbucks to highlight its efforts not only to inform its customers where its coffee beans are sourced but also how it is working with coffee producers to help maintain sustainable farming practices.

In an interview with Foodbiz Asia, Jeff Miller, vice-president, coffee and partner engagement at Starbucks Asia Pacific, reveals how the company is working towards this goal.

“As a company, we are committed to using our scale to positively impact the communities we serve around the world,” he explains. “Starbucks focuses its social impact in areas where our commitment and scale can make the biggest impact, including being responsible and sourcing ethically, creating opportunities for and strengthening communities.”

Starbucks plans to train 200,000 coffee farmers by 2020 to improve the long-term sustainability of their crops and livelihoods through the company’s Farmer Support Centers and other innovative efforts.

Miller adds that Starbucks is working to make coffee the world’s first sustainable agricultural product by doing its part to improve the lives of one million farmers and workers who grow Starbucks coffee around the world.

“We are helping to improve their livelihoods by investing in coffee communities, sharing technical coffee knowledge, and innovating with new agricultural approaches,” he says. “Building on our nearly 20- year partnership with Conservation International, our goal to make coffee the world’s first sustainable agricultural product involves four key commitments.”

As defined by Mintel, the ‘third wave’ coffee movement is taking coffee appreciation a step further, focusing intensely on where beans are sourced and how they are roasted, with a renewed focus on brewing methods.

THESE COMMITMENTS ARE:

Ethical sourcing

To offer 100% ethically sourced coffee. By joining with other partners in the industry, Starbucks hopes to make coffee the world’s first sustainable agricultural product.

Planting trees

To provide 100 million trees to farmers by 2025, part of a commitment to one billion coffee trees through the Sustainable Coffee Challenge.

Global Farmer Fund

To invest US$50 million in financing for farmers by 2020.

Open-source agronomy

To train 200,000 coffee farmers by 2020 to improve the long-term sustainability of their crops and livelihoods through Starbucks Farmer Support Centers and other innovative efforts.

According to Starbucks, it already uses 99% ethically sourced coffee. “However, we are not done yet,” says Miller. “We will continue to work with that last 1% to bring producers along on this journey with us, like we do with Starbucks Reserve Eastern DR Congo Lake Kivu coffee, where we are working with farmers to expand our ethical sourcing effort.”

The global coffee retailer currently operates eight Farmer Support Centers in key coffee-producing countries around the world, including two in Asia — in Yunnan, China, and Sumatra, Indonesia.

Miller concludes: “Building on traditional growing methods, our professional agronomists help farmers continue to improve both the quality and yield of their crops which enable farmers to receive a better price, ensuring the future of high-quality coffee for everyone. Through this global network, Starbucks aims to train 200,000 coffee farmers by 2020.”