Coffee is the world’s most popular drink, with over two billion cups consumed daily. The energizing lifeblood of countless meetings and social events, coffee kick-starts the day for people across the globe and sustains them through countless tasks and efforts – such as growing more coffee, for example!
This year, Louis Dreyfus Company celebrates 30 years in the coffee business. From a single origin in Brazil in 1989, we have grown to be one of the world’s top five green coffee merchandizers – a multinational exporter with 19 global processing, storage and logistic facilities, and coffee origination offices across 12 countries.
But if we want to succeed in the long run, and keep the coffee industry thriving, we have to be flexible and continually adapt to change.
Preference and demand for sustainable coffee is rising rapidly, especially among millennials in the huge markets of North America and Western Europe and, at the same time, coffee producers are facing increasing challenges as climate change threatens to reduce the land area suitable for production and increases the spread of pests and diseases.
“LDC is committed to boosting the production of certified and verified coffee, working in collaboration with 4C Association, UTZ, Rainforest Alliance, CAFE Practices and Fairtrade certification programs”, said Michael Gelchie, Head of the coffee Platform. “Our dedicated coffee sustainability team supports thousands of smallholder coffee farmers and students – over 32,000 since 2014 – to produce over 2.5 million bags of sustainably certified or verified coffee each year.”
We also recognize that sustainable agriculture is closely linked to farmers’ economic wellbeing. Some 70% of the world’s coffee is produced by smallholder farmers in remote tropical regions, many of whom are struggling to earn enough to secure a living, let alone to invest in sustainable production. For these vulnerable smallholders, certification can be out of reach.
That is why LDC looks beyond certification, supporting producers through local projects and initiatives that aim to secure the future of coffee farming, training smallholders to apply best practices that can help improve their livelihoods for the long-term while adapting to a changing climate. We of course aim to help them obtain certification, but with or without the stamp, we want our coffee to be responsibly produced, and the farmers who grow it to be supported.
Over the last decade, LDC agronomists have worked with tens of thousands of coffee growers across the globe, training them in sustainable farming methods that they can immediately put into practice. From harvesting and drying out to branching and pruning, and from irrigation to fertilization and soil protection, these techniques have helped farmers to increase productivity, reduce production costs and, crucially, boost their income. This has helped them to remain in the coffee business and their families and communities to thrive, including increased investment in local infrastructure and education.
The farmers are also passing on their knowledge of sustainable farming techniques to the next generation, and thereby protecting the long-term supply of coffee. Because a truly sustainable approach recognizes that whether for the soil or the farmer, regeneration is key.
Looking ahead to the next 30 years, LDC is now moving further downstream in the coffee value chain, closer to the world’s growing number of coffee consumers, recognizing that the more integrated our supply chain, the more we can ensure we deliver sustainable products. This is the key to the future of our coffee business.
Our partners also recognize LDC’s potential to take on a more ambitious role within the value chain, in order to continue to drive positive social and environmental impacts. Mario Cerutti, Chief Institutional Relations and Sustainability Officer at Lavazza, said: “I see a vacuum, the need for a player who is present throughout the supply chain and who would use that position to catalyse positive change. I see a space for LDC in that respect.”
By pursuing our efforts to secure a sustainable future for the coffee business, LDC is determined to help ensure that coffee drinkers throughout the world can not only continue to enjoy their favorite beverage, but that they do so knowing it was responsibly produced and supplied.
Because everyone likes a cup of coffee. But what they love is a really good cup of coffee.