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Illycaffè Chairman Andrea Illy on the need for change in 2022

Each year GCR invites industry leaders to share their hopes, fears and expectations for the year ahead, in what is expected to be one of rejuvenation and unity for the global coffee market.

In reflection on my industry predictions for 2022, my first hope is that we get rid of the global pandemic. If so, we are likely to see a significant rebound in out-of-home consumption. I also hope that the price of coffee, which is in a volatile situation, will consolidate to a level which is not too high nor too low. And lastly, I hope we start having a collective impact of sustainable efforts across the coffee value chain.

The most challenging of all, however, will be climate change management. We will undoubtedly see its impact next year – we don’t know which country will bear the force, but we will have to manage it like we did in 2021. 

This battle for sustainability must be a pre-competitive one. We need to share resources, efforts, and knowledge collectively in order to make the overall coffee industry more sustainable and continue to compete for the taste of our coffee rather than for the title of ‘most sustainable’. At the end of the day, we as coffee roasters, offer taste and flavour in a cup to a consumer. Sustainability is not consumable, it’s about the way we produce. If everyone produced their coffee in the same way, we could probably minimise climate change impact in a shorter period of time. It is a limitless battle. 

The first impact of climate change will be on quality, then quantity. My fear is that we are running out of time. The next 10 years will make the difference. There are so many ambitious programs being run by institutions like the United Nations, and many important private investments, that there is literally a mobilisation for sustainability. It is also clearly understood and imperative to decarbonise our world in a natural way – replanting trees and preserving biodiversity.

If we move from a conventional agriculture model to a non-conventional, virtuous, and regenerative one, agriculture could even become carbon negative, sequestering carbon instead of emitting it.

While there is pressure at origin to make a positive impact, companies are also under pressure from consumers, the financial sector, institutions, and competitors. I believe there is more opportunity for the private sector to bring a very strong contribution to this ecological transformation.

This article was first published in the January/February 2022 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.

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