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Toward a Sustainable Coffee Value Chain

December 4, 2018

People around the world may be drinking more coffee, but producing the aromatic coffee beans is getting harder for the millions of people who grow them for a living. The overwhelming majority (70%) are smallholder farmers in poor and remote tropical regions.

Coffee is a sensitive plant that requires very precise weather conditions in order to thrive. With climate changing temperature and rainfall patterns, and bringing pests and disease, the areas suitable for coffee production are shrinking.

As production becomes harder, coffee growers’ earnings are declining and many of these farmers are no longer able or willing to continue producing.

“The continued success of our coffee operations relies on a coffee supply that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable,” says Markus Reis, Head of LDC’s Coffee Platform. “If farmers are unwilling or unable to continue farming, they switch to other commodities or abandon farming altogether in search of a better life in the cities.”

In its first ever Coffee Sustainability Report, LDC explains how the company puts farmers at the heart of its work toward a sustainable coffee value chain. Our approach has evolved to go beyond certification schemes, offering more direct support to smallholder producers, while focusing on responsible sourcing.

“The report outlines the ways in which we are making our coffee supply chains more sustainable, working with a range of private and non-profit sector partners, from businesses to NGOs,” says Rozenn Kerviel, Coffee Sustainability Manager at LDC.

“We strongly believe that collaboration is central to solving common challenges. In that spirit, we hope this publication will encourage dialogue and pave the way toward new partnerships,” she added.

“An important goal that is hard to achieve”

The report showcases projects that LDC runs in partnership with private sector companies, NGOs and other institutions, focusing on training and providing tools and agricultural inputs. These initiatives involve farmers in our key coffee origination countries, including Vietnam, Indonesia, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, and more recently Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia as well.

“Sustainable coffee production is an extremely important goal that is extraordinarily hard to achieve,” said Daniel Martz, Head of Corporate Affairs at JDE Coffee, who partners with LDC on various projects around the world. “The best way to improve coffee sustainability is to create partnerships.”

In 2016/17, the world drank its way through nearly 9.5 billion kilos of coffee, up 2% from the previous year. More sustainable coffee production will ensure that LDC – one of the world’s top five green coffee merchants – can continue to supply the world’s increasingly coffee-thirsty markets.

“In the decades to come, business will play a vital role in moving the world toward more sustainable practices, while contributing to social and economic progress,” said Guy Hogge, Global Head of Sustainability at LDC. “LDC wants to be part of the solution by leveraging its unique position in the value chain to foster positive change.”


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