Market Reports

UCC Coffee Europe CEO Paul Molyneux on leveraging opportunities in 2022

UCC Coffee Europe CEO Paul Molyneux

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.

The world is evolving dynamically: COVID-19, rising costs, and climate change are accelerating this at a rapid speed, but even in times of crisis, you can make room for opportunity. 

In the last two years, we’ve seen 74 per cent of Europeans work from home during the pandemic, 41 per cent spend less on eating out, and unfortunately, an 18 per cent reduction in household income according to a PWC 2020 global insight survey. This has been a drastic shift in how we behave and consume, meaning businesses must be agile in adapting to the new world order. According to the World Coffee Portal Project Café Europe 2021, there will be “a modest return to outlet growth in 2022”. This doesn’t mean customers aren’t drinking coffee, they’re just doing it differently. 

So, we’ve looked at these market trends and how we build resilience and flexibility into our business model and have started the process of rebalancing our business to give us the ability to focus on where we see real opportunity. Our strategic plans are in place, and to meet the new demand, we are investing in our new consumer brand Ueshima Coffee Company and our premium digital vending solution, Coffee To Go. To support these initiatives, we’ve accelerated organisational change, strengthened our central functions, added new marketing and product innovation roles, and created vertical business units to incubate these new business models.

However, what cannot be ignored is sustainability. At COP26, the hotly debated topics were around carbon emissions and how businesses can reduce them. We are all accountable, and we’ll feel the pressure from not only governments but customers too. As a top 10 global coffee business, we have a far-reaching environmental footprint, so we have several ongoing initiatives, including factories moving to renewable electricity and improving energy efficiencies, reducing our waste, and reusing and recycling wherever possible. As well as supporting the key initiatives of our partners, including Conservation International, Rainforest Alliance, and Terracycle. Taking this a step further, we have a global materiality study underway to define our long-term sustainability ambitions, and we look forward to sharing more on this soon. 

This past year, we’ve overcome considerable obstacles, and 2022 will undoubtedly be challenging, but if we leverage the power of UCC – its heritage, knowledge, people – and apply it into the new business models, then the opportunity is huge.

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

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