Starbucks joins SWISSCO to strive for sustainability impacts in the cocoa value chain

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Starbucks believes that it is its role and responsibility to have a positive impact on the communities it serves and to work alongside coffee and cocoa farmers to help improve their livelihoods.

In 1971, Starbucks consisted of a single store in Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market. Today, more than five decades later, the brand has expanded to over 34,000 stores around the world.

While Starbucks is most famously known for its coffee, the brand also sells a number of products containing cocoa. To keep up with its vision of being “a different kind of company – one deep with purpose, where we work together to create a positive impact in the world,” Starbucks has joined SWISSCO to strive for sustainability impacts in the cocoa value chain.

The following paragraphs give some insights into Starbucks work in the cocoa and coffee sectors, based on Starbucks' GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL & SOCIAL IMPACT REPORT 2021

Starbucks & cocoa

Starbucks believes in the pursuit of doing good. The company’s aspiration is to be people positive – investing in humanity and the well-being of people they connect with. Starbucks understands that its future is inextricably tied to the future of farmers and their families.

Today’s farmers face numerous challenges to their long-term future. Starbucks believes that it is its role and responsibility to have a positive impact on the communities it serves and to work alongside coffee and cocoa farmers to help improve their livelihoods.

The company aims to help farmers increase their productivity, quality of life, and profitability by driving solutions that support both people and our planet.

In its Global Environmental & Social Impact Report 2021 Starbucks highlighted that in 2021 their global sourcing team purchased 10 million kilograms of segregated cocoa beans from the Ivory Coast through its Tier 1 supplier, Cargill. Starbucks continues to source Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa and to work in partnership with the Rainforest Alliance to leverage their expertise and increase the global brand’s due diligence and transparency in its cocoa supply chains. As a member of the World Cocoa Foundation, the Cocoa Forest Initiative and the International Cocoa Initiative, Starbucks continues to work with others across the industry to evolve and strengthen its approach to responsibly sourced cocoa.

Potential for cross-sectoral cooperation between the coffee and the cocoa sector

Overall, the Global Environmental & Social Impact Report 2021 from Starbucks provides some interesting insights into achievements and learnings across the cocoa and coffee sector which certainly have the potential to drive further impact for the producers of both commodities if they are pursued and scaled up.  

Starbucks has a Global Farmer Fund and Farmer Support all of which aim to provide support to the company’s producers and strengthen all three pillars of sustainability in the coffee chain. Additionally, the cornerstone of the company’s ethical sourcing approach to buying coffee is Coffee Farmer and Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices, which was one of the coffee industry’s first set of ethical sourcing standards when it launched in 2004. As coffee and cocoa often grow in the same regions, synergies between coffee and cocoa could be used and the structures that have been set up to support coffee farmers could be adapted in similar ways to match the needs of cocoa farmers.

C.A.F.E. Practices

Developed in collaboration with Conservation International, C.A.F.E. Practices is a verification program that measures farms against economic, social and environmental criteria, designed to promote transparent, profitable and sustainable coffee growing practices while protecting the well-being of coffee farmers and workers, their families and their communities. Evidence shows that farmers participating in the program have higher productivity than country averages, which has helped Starbucks create a long-term supply of high-quality coffee while positively impacting the lives of coffee farmers and their communities. Starbucks’ goal is to ethically source and verify 100% of its coffee through C.A.F.E. Practices.

Global Farmer Fund

The Starbucks Global Farmer Fund was created to improve supply chain resiliency and ensure a long-term supply of coffee by addressing the unmet business financing needs of farmers. Too often, farmers cannot turn to traditional banks for business lending because of high interest rates. The loans provided through the fund allow farmers to plant new trees, improve their infrastructure and build financial resiliency in the face of shifts in climate and markets.

Farmer Support Centres

Starbucks operates Farmer Support Centres in coffee-producing countries around the world and in 2021 opened its tenth Farmer Support Center. These centres provided free direct-to-farmer training along with training to technical experts in a train-the-trainer model to more than 30,000 people globally.

Furthermore, Starbucks launched two new projects in Huila (Colombia) and San Martin (Peru) in early 2021 to remove carbon and support the company’s carbon neutral goals as well as to provide freshwater ecosystems benefits and improve biodiversity. These are regions for not only coffee but also cocoa farmers. Therefore, there appears to be huge potential to upscale these projects, collaborate with other SWISSCO partners who are active in these regions and make the most use of the synergies between the sectors.


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