Starbucks announced at its annual shareholders meeting that as of this year, 99% of its coffee will be verified as ethicially sourced and sustainably produced. The company also addressed the importance of that last 1%. VPC
Starbucks says it’s about as close as it can get to ethically sourcing virtually all of its coffee.
Ninety-nine percent of the coffee it sells in 2015 will be verified by outside certification specialists as being ethically sourced — meaning it meets rigorous economic, environmental and social standards for the farmers who supply the coffee. That’s no slam-dunk for a chain whose 21,000 stores weave through 65 countries globally.
Starbucks says it has invested more than $70 million in ethically sourcing its coffee and supporting farm sustainability.
“Reaching our ethical sourcing milestone shows that it can be done,” says Craig Russell, executive vice president of global coffee for Starbucks, in a statement. “We believe we are defining a sustainable way forward for our industry,”
Though the company alluded to this 99% figure at its annual meeting last month, the official announcement this week is a clear move by Starbucks to appeal to younger consumers — particularly socially conscious Millennials — who increasingly demand to know where the products they buy come from. Fifty-one percent of Millennials say they’re willing to pay more for sustainable products, according to a recent Nielsen survey.
The latest figures show an improvement over 2014, when Starbucks reported that 96% of its coffee was verified ethically sourced. This represents more than 400 million pounds of coffee served globally. The ethical sourcing is certified through groups including C.A.F.E (Coffee and Farmer Equity) Practices and Fairtrade. Certification Global Services is the third party that trains and audits the verification.
Reaching the 100% plateau may not be possible anytime soon, spokeswoman Haley Drage says. “Because we want to continue to help open new coffee markets, getting to 100% will be difficult to do,” she says. “Our opportunity is to use our purchase power to create a supply chain that allows them the chance to meet our standards.”
Even then, reaching 99% is not simple.
“The milestone of Starbucks ethically sourcing 99% of their coffee cannot be underestimated,” says John Buchanan, interim senior vice president and senior director of sustainable food and agriculture markets of Conservation International. In fact, he says, the achievement makes it possible “to consider that coffee could be the world’s first sustainably sourced commodity.” Read more…