Keurig purchasing less certified coffee

by JulieCraves on March 11, 2015

I have been updating the data table that explains how much eco-certified coffee the large coffee companies buy.  The latest company to get updated is Keurig Green Mountain (formerly Green Mountain Coffee Roasters) as they have recently released their 2014 sustainability report.

You can view all the data yourself in the table, but I have created a graphic that shows Keurig is purchasing less eco-certified coffee over the last few years.

KGM2014The graph shows the percentage of the different types of coffee they buy (the amount in metric tons is given at the top of each bar, and shows an increase in tonnage of over 350%). The green colors are the eco-certified purchases — Rainforest Alliance, organic, and Fair Trade that is also certified organic*. Red is Fair Trade that is not organic (and remember that Fair Trade is not an eco-certification).

Gray and black is coffee that carries no certification at all. Black is “conventionally” sourced coffee — usually coffee brought through brokers that is not traceable to specific origin. Gray is coffee that is what Keurig calls “Farm Identified,” and they are placing a lot of emphasis on it. It’s not certified, but they know where it came from. Their philosophy is “When we know who produces our coffee, we are closer to knowing how they produce it.” Of course, certified coffees are traceable, and the production methods by definition are already known. Buying less certified coffee and more “Farm Identified” coffee seems like a leap backwards in understanding how their coffee is grown.

You can see eco-certified coffee (green bars) remains steady from 2009-2011; the average amount for those three years was 22.6%. But KGMs purchases of eco-certified coffees has been steadily decreasing since 2012, from 19.1% to 17.3% and now to 12.6%. The average for the past three years is 16.2%,  a 28% decrease from 2009-2011. Tweet  This decline more or less aligns with the popularity of K-Cups, which has been accelerating over this period (as seen in this depressing graph from the recent Washington Post article on America’s love of bad coffee).

The KGM sustainability report states a 2020 goal of sourcing 100% of their coffee (and other products) to their Responsible Sourcing Guidelines. These are a sort of glorified set of minimum standards that remind me a lot of the “let’s not break any laws” guidelines of 4C compliance. You can read the 12-page document yourself, but the environmental section is brief, and says that KGM “…expect[s] all suppliers to demonstrate environmental responsibility” and that they should “protect and restore biodiversity.” Further, they “encourage” their agricultural suppliers to “Protect and restore soil and water resources” and “Appropriately manage and/or eliminate their use of hazardous agrochemicals.” That’s it — no quantifiable requirements, thresholds, or metrics. As far as coffee goes, almost any third-party certification would be an improvement.

Overall, a continued disappointing trend for a company that used to be a sustainability leader.

*The company stopped breaking out how much of their Fair Trade coffee was also organic in 2012. Figures after that period are calculated at 47% of their Fair Trade coffee, which is the percent Fair Trade USA provided as of 2009.

Revised on November 29, 2020

Posted in Certifications,Keurig Green Mountain,Retail and specialty roasters

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