Global Coffee Platform creating a true snapshot of sustainability

Global Coffee Platform

In its latest Snapshot report, Global Coffee Platform explores the increasing sustainable coffee purchases made by six leading coffee companies and explains why transparency on demand is helping to encourage sustainable change.

As the world transitions into a decade of delivery that aims to achieve the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Global Coffee Platform (GCP) Executive Director Annette Pensel says scaled sustainable action, accountability, and transparency across the coffee supply chain must be a common focus to positively contribute to sustainable change.

To help record the industry’s commitment and progress to sustainable coffee purchases, supply chain advocate GCP has released a report titled GCP Snapshot 2019 & 2020 that details the volume and source of sustainable coffee purchased from six leading roasters, including JDE Peet’s, Melitta Group, Nestlé, Strauss Coffee, Supracafé, and Tesco.

“This GCP Snapshot allows roasters and retailers to show their progress on sustainable coffee purchasing commitments with clear, common, comparable metrics,” says Pensel.

The report is the culmination of a collective action and reporting approach which relies on common indicators and metrics to motivate group change while sharing knowledge and resources. This approach builds on sustainability action across the supply chain from farmers and traders to roasters, retailers, and consumers.

Designed to increase transparency of demand for sustainable coffee, Pensel says the report is being made available to the wider coffee sector as a call to arms for more roasters and retailers to partake in the sector’s transparency efforts and increase sustainable coffee demand.

“It is an integral part of GCP’s sustainable sourcing approach, and drives our shared goal to continually increase production and purchase of sustainable coffees from diverse origins, improving coffee farmers’ prosperity, wellbeing, and conservation of nature,” Pensel says.

“The GCP Snapshot, based on annual GCP Collective Reporting, is an instrumental report for precompetitive data-sharing to inspire increasing demand for sustainable coffee purchases and progressive sector transparency.”

The Snapshot is underpinned by the GCP Baseline Coffee Code, a sector-wide reference for the foundations of sustainable coffee production. It currently features 27 sustainability principles to follow and 10 unacceptable practices to avoid. The code has undergone participatory revision and is expected to be published in late 2021.

Annette Pensel is the Executive Director of Global Coffee Platform.

Using this reference code, the Snapshot report captures GCP Baseline Coffee Code equivalent sustainability schemes including 4C, Starbucks’ C.A.F.E. Practices, Certifica Minas, Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, and Utz.

New 2nd Party Sustainability Schemes have been recognised by the GCP and introduced to the Snapshot this year, including Ecom’s SMS Verified, Olam’s AtSource Entry Verified, and AtSource Plus, with Nespresso AAA returning from the 2018 Snapshot.

Pensel says these snapshots will help pave the road to coffee sustainability.

In 2019, the Snapshot found that, in total, the same six roasters as noted above received, 1.91 million tonnes, equivalent to 31.9 million 60-kilogram bags of green coffee. Of these, 41 per cent or 789 million tonnes were purchased through sustainability schemes recognised under the GCP Baseline Coffee Code.

This revealed a 7.1 per cent increase in total coffee volumes reported, and an increase of 22.9 per cent of sustainable coffee purchased. There was also a 15 per cent increase between 2018 to 2019 of sustainable shares, from 36 per cent to 41 per cent.

In 2020, a total of 2.02 million metric tonnes, equivalent to 33.7 million 60-kilogram bags of green coffee, was received. Out of these, 48 per cent or 983,000 metric tonnes were purchased in line with GCP-recognised sustainability schemes.

In 2018, 36 per cent of total green coffee reported was sustainably purchased, increasing to 41 per cent in 2019 and growing to 48 per cent in 2020.

“The growth is the result of multiple factors, but certainly shows companies rising to meet consumer, shareholder, and finance sector expectations. Companies are following, and in some cases exceeding, their own sustainable purchasing targets. This shows a serious commitment to change,” says Pensel.

Nadia Hoarau-Mwaura, Sustainability Director of JDE Peet’s said in a statement that the company welcomes the transparency the GCP Snapshot provides, while Marcelo Burity, Head of Green Coffee Development at Nestlé, adds that this demand for transparency and sustainable coffee is a “key driver” to creating a resilient coffee sector.

For Stefan Dierks, Director Sustainability of Melitta Group, the Snapshot is also about strengthening transparency in the coffee sector, particularly in the use of sustainable cultivation standards, its strengths, and opportunities for improvement.

Rafi Camhi, Director of Business Operations for Strauss Coffee tells Global Coffee Report, “Transparency and collaboration is vital to promoting sustainability in the coffee sector. The GCP report is a good platform to showcase a small part of the [positive impacts] we are making.”

Focusing on the coffee producing countries, the GCP Snapshot for 2019 & 2020 found that coffee was sourced from a total of 37 countries with 27 of these being considered sustainable coffee purchases under the GCP Baseline Coffee Code. This increased from 25 sustainable coffee purchasing countries in 2018.

Across 2019 and 2020, Vietnam, Brazil, Colombia, Honduras and Indonesia remained major sources of sustainable coffee purchases.

“These countries represent major suppliers of coffees, with high volumes of certified coffees traditionally available in these origins,” Pensel says.

According to the International Coffee Organization (ICO), these top five producing countries have increased global output from 57 per cent to 70 per cent since 1990. The ICO says increasing this coffee production in certain areas could result in higher supply risks and lower consumer choices, impacting the product’s diversity and coffee farmer livelihoods.

Vietnam continued to triumph as the leading country in sustainable coffee purchases, supplying 363,837 metric tonnes of sustainable coffee in 2019, increasing to 403,354 metric tonnes in 2020.

With more roaster and retailers predicted to join future rounds of GCP Collective Reporting, growth is expected in both total volumes of sustainable coffee purchases and the diversity of origins from which they are being sourced.

Introduced for the first time this year, the GCP Snapshot saw JDE Peet’s, Nestlé, Supracafé, and Tesco provide the origins of their sustainable coffee purchases according to four country groups: Latin America (excluding Brazil), Africa, Asia-Pacific (excluding Vietnam), and Brazil and Vietnam combined.

Of these, JDE Peet’s, Nestle and Tesco sourced a majority of its sustainable coffee purchases from Brazil and Vietnam with only Supracafé sourcing 100 per cent of its sustainable coffee from Latin America.

In 2018, 36 per cent of total green coffee reported was sustainably purchased, increasing to 41 per cent in 2019 and growing to 48 per cent in 2020.

Samuel F. Ricardo Ruiz, Chief Sustainability Officer of Supracafé says that this transparency contributes to “a global vision on the transformation path towards a sustainable coffee industry”.

“A lot of coffee which has been produced sustainably hasn’t necessarily found a consumer market yet. For a sustainable, thriving coffee sector it will be key to substantially increase sustainable purchasing from a broad range of coffee origins, also beyond Vietnam and Brazil,” says Pensel.

“As a driver for origin diversity, this will also unleash coffee’s potential to contribute to sustainable socio-economic development and maintain and restore natural resources to address climate change in rural landscapes. To achieve this, complementary interventions are necessary to enable coffee producers to adopt sustainable practices while ensuring economic viability of coffee farming. GCP believes that sustainability is a shared responsibility, therefore the costs of change towards sustainable practices and farmers’ prosperity cannot be carried by coffee producers alone.”

Regarding equivalent sustainability schemes, the GCP Snapshot for 2019 and 2020 found 4C certified coffee continued to have the largest sustainable purchase volume, accounting for 58 per cent of all reported 2020 sustainable coffee purchases.

Countries such as Brazil, Colombia, and Honduras demonstrated multiple certifications, but in areas such as Vietnam, China and Côte d’Ivoire, 4C was found to be the main sustainability scheme used.

“This shows that more advanced producer groups have been making significant efforts to follow different sustainability schemes, expecting to sell their coffees to different clients and market segments,” says Pensel.

A high number of companies reported using two or more sustainability schemes, with the triple certification of 4C, Rainforest Alliance, and Utz representing 10 per cent on total reported sustainable coffee purchases in 2020.

According to GCP, the Baseline Coffee Code equivalent of 2nd Party Sustainability Schemes accounted for 6 per cent of reported sustainable purchases in 2019 and 9 per cent in 2020.

“It will be interesting to monitor the expected growth of 2nd Party Schemes in future rounds of GCP Collective Reporting,” Pensel says.

For the GCP Baseline Coffee Code equivalent 3rd party schemes, 4C, Rainforest Alliance, and Utz all showed a growth in market uptake of global sales. Fairtrade International was not able to provide numbers in 2020.

More than 40 per cent of cumulative global sales by 4C, Fairtrade International, Rainforest Alliance, and Utz was reportedly bought by the six participating companies with these companies purchasing a total of of 789 million tonnes of sustainable coffee in 2019.

“While acknowledging the challenges and the need for bold complementary action, the annual GCP Snapshot is an important contribution to increase transparency on demand for sustainable coffees,” Pensel says.

“We hope more companies will be inspired to participate and to publicly share their progress in the next round of Sustainable Coffee Purchases Reporting of 2021 figures.”

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This article was first published in the September/October edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.

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