Eco-certified coffee: How much is there?

by on May 31, 2011

Latest update 2 May 2014

When sales and market shares of various certified coffees come out, I try to put them together in a post. Each certification scheme tends to announce them at different times of the year, and provides slightly different data. I’ve decided to put the most salient data together in a table for four of the main coffee certifications with environmental criteria, plus Starbucks CAFE Standards (a third-party verified set of supplier standards), with past data for reference. I’ve standardized the unit to metric tons for easy comparison. Links on the year go to source information, which usually has more detail.

For a little perspective, world production over the last several years has been around 8 million metric tons, and the U.S. imports around 1.5 to 1.6 million metric tons of coffee a year. As of 2012, approximately 40% of world coffee production (3.3 million metric tons) was compliant with some sort of standard — including Fairtrade and others not listed here.

Hectares
certified
Production
(metric tons)
Sales in metric tons
(% of production)1
Smithsonian Bird-Friendly 2008: 5000
2010: 7600
2012: 8650
2006: 3600
2008: 2700
2010: 4400
2012: 4735
2006: 200 (5.5%)
2010: 206 (4.7%)
Rainforest Alliance 2007: 200,000
2009: 305,383
2012: 323,500
2006: 27,152
2007
: 41,494
2008: 123,766
2009: 168,114
2010: 219,337
2011: 245,000
2012: 375,000
2013: 454,962
200862,296 (50%)
2009
: 67,583 (40%)
2010: 114,884 (52%)
2011: 129,864 (53%)
Organic2 2007: 546,541
2008:
463,500
2009:
560,368
2010
: 642,833
2011: 534,392
2008: 195,782
2009:
204,606
2010
: 230,819
2011: 248,767
2006: 30,000
2007: 38,000
2008: 117,560 (60%)
2009: 112,900 (55%)
2010: 117,960 (51%)
2011: 133,163 (53%)
Starbucks CAFE Practices3 2010: ~435,000 2012: 457,339 2008: 134,000
2009: 136,000
2010: 103,000
2011: 166,468
2012: 230,878 (50%)
2013: 171,004
UTZ Certified4 2006: 163,300
2012: 508,661
2006: 108,500
2007: 218,358
2008: 308,464
2009: 365,010
2010: 394,003
2011: 476,903
2012: 715,648
2006: 36,000 (33%)
2007: 53,000 (24%)
2008: 77,478 (25%)
2009: 81,367 (22%)
2010
: 120,994 (31%)
2011: 132,752 (28%)
2012: 188,096 (26%)

1 Not all coffee produced under certification criteria is sold as certified. The 2014 State of Sustainability Initiatives report reveals that 35% of standards-compliant coffee is not sold as certified. Authors note: “… companies have ample choice for sustainable sourcing (positive outcome), but also suggests that the market may be placing downward pressure on the prices of sustainable products due to oversupply (negative outcome).”

2 2008-2011 figures from 2014 State of Sustainability Initiatives report.

3 Land area is extrapolated from data in 2011 Ethical Sourcing Factsheet stating that at least 102,000 ha are set aside for conservation on Starbucks’ suppliers farms, and that represents about 23% of total area verified under CAFE Practices. Figures for sales for Starbucks are actually purchases by the company under this program.

4 UTZ figures for sales are actually the amount of certified coffee purchased by the first buyer. The amount of coffee sold as UTZ certified is slightly lower, about 10-15% in the years where this data was provided.

Here is more detail on the data:

In reporting 2011 results, Rainforest Alliance showed that both sales and production of certified coffee increased, but as the table above shows, the percentage of RA-certified coffee produced that is sold as certified has remained steady at around 50% for several years (I used the larger of two numbers provided on the report for the production figure). The organization also states that RA-certified coffee represents approximately 3.3% of the global market share. For their 2012 numbers, I used the production figure in their press release and the sales figure from the State of Sustainability Initiatives 2014 report; the latter gives a lower production figure of 348,793 metric tons provided directly from RA.

Organic coffee statistics are not centrally aggregated and notoriously hard to parse. Figures on total land in organic coffee come from The World of Organic Agriculture yearbooks (latest are 2010 stats from the 2012 yearbook) based on research by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL. This report indicates that current land in organic coffee represents about 6.5% of the world’s harvested coffee area, with 93% of organic coffee grown in Peru, Ethiopia, and Mexico. Harvest area figures are similar to those from the State of Sustainability Initiatives 2014 report which I used for 2011.

Starbucks regularly publishes updates to their ethical coffee sourcing program on their web site. Their goal is to source 100% of their coffee through their CAFE Practices supplier guidelines and/or some other third-party certification by 2015, and they are on track by increasing that proportion to 95% of their total purchases in 2013.  The production figure for 2012 is from the State of Sustainability Initiatives 2014 report, which gives lower sales figure of 223,230 metric tons. Starbucks sustainability reports can be found here.

UTZ accomplishments and data are gleaned from past annual reports, which can be downloaded here.

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Revised on May 4, 2014

Posted in Certifications,Data summary tables

Bela June 16, 2011 at 2:17 am

Thank-you so much for the data and stats. I am impressed by Starbucks transparency in reporting.

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