Final word on eco-purchases by big buyers

by on February 14, 2012

The final publication by the recently disbanded Tropical Commodity Coalition was the Coffee Barometer 2012. I have used TCC data to put together summaries (most recent here, just updated with the receipt of the latest report) on how much eco-certified or verified coffee is purchased by the world’s major coffee buyers.  While my summary table focuses on buyers of particular importance to U.S. markets, the Coffee Barometer includes all top ten buyers.

Here is what TCC had to say about them. You can refer to my post for information on Nestlé, Kraft, Sara Lee, Smucker, Starbucks, Green Mountain, and Caribou (the last two are U.S. companies I chose to include that are not in the TCC report).

  • Strauss — Strauss Coffee is part of the Israeli food company Strauss Group; its primary markets are in Eastern Europe, Israel, and Brazil. According to TCC, the coffee company has no clear commitments, no public sharing of figures or sustainability strategy, not known to invest significant resources to sustainability in their coffee business. 5th largest buyer, purchased 215,000 metric tons in 2010.
  • Tchibo — Germany company owned by a the wealthy Herz family. Working toward 100% of coffee being traceable to the farm level, may use various certifications or verifications, including those with weak or marginal eco-standards.  In 2010, five percent of their purchases were eco-certified (out of 173,000 metric tons, 6th largest buyer).
  • Lavazza — Based in Italy. No clear clear sustainability strategy or public figures available. 7th largest buyer, purchased 140,000 metric tons in 2010.
  • AldiFamously secretive German company operating discount grocery chains in many countries including the U.S. No clear commitments, no public sharing of figures or sustainability strategy, not known to invest significant resources to sustainability in their coffee business. Further: “Aldi, a reputed laggard, disinclined to share any information regarding its coffee business.“  9th largest buyer, purchased 120,000 metric tons in 2010.
  • Segafredo – a brand of the Massimo Zanetti Beverage Group. The company grows, roasts, and distributes its own coffee, and owns the largest coffee plantation in the world, located in Brazil (I assume it is the vast sun monoculture featured on this page of its web site). No clear clear sustainability strategy or public figures available. 10th largest buyer, purchased 70,000 metric tons in 2010.

So, of the top ten buyers, seven (Nestlé, Smucker, Sara Lee, Strauss, Lavazza, Aldi, and Segafredo) are essentially ignoring environmental sustainability in their coffee supply chains and buying little, if any, coffee that is produced under meaningful environmental standards. This represents over 1.9 million tons (24% of world production).

Two (Kraft and Tchibo) are making nominal efforts, with 7% and 5% of their coffee supply, respectively, being eco-certified. Their certified purchases combined are less than 60,000 tons (or less than 1% of world production).

Only one of the top 10 buyers, Starbucks, is sourcing a large portion of its coffee under worthwhile eco-standards. In 2010, this was 84% of the 122,000 tons it purchased, with a goal of 100% in the near future. Kudos to the Mermaid.

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Revised on March 23, 2014

Posted in Corporate coffee,Starbucks

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Ohio SEO February 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm

This is a really good read for me.Must admit that you are one of the coolest bloggers I ever saw.Thanks for posting this informative article.

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Somerset wedding gal March 6, 2012 at 12:50 pm

It’s strange to see these big names we’re all used to suddenly made untrustworthy and questionable! I guess it goes to show that we shouldn’t ever really let our ethical guard down and stay well-informed on issues of sustainability and the like.

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Nic December 14, 2012 at 7:19 am

Hi, I am a student from germany and would like to create an illustrated infograph. I want to show the biggest coffee buyers and from what countries they import from. Could you help me with this? Thanks, Nic

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JACraves December 14, 2012 at 9:33 am

Hi, Nic. I’m afraid there is no easy way to do this but attempt to contact the companies you are interested in and see if they will supply you with this information. I am not sure you will have a lot of luck, as they as very protective of this data, if they even have a good handle on it in the first place. I don’t recall even seeing it in their annual reports, but that is a place to start.

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