April 09, 2008 // Franchising.com // Costa Coffee, the UK's largest and fastest growing coffee shop, plans to convert its entire coffee supply to sustainably grown beans sourced from Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM farms by 2010.
As a first step, from September 2008 at least 30% of Costa's unique Mocha Italia blend, which forms the base of its coffee drinks, will come from Rainforest Alliance Certified sources, equal to about 1000 tonnes of green coffee over the course of a year.
Only farms that meet specific standards balancing all aspects of production, including protecting the environment, the rights and welfare of workers and the interest of coffee-growing communities are awarded certification. The standards were developed by the Rainforest Alliance, an independent, international environment organisation, and other conservation groups that comprise the Sustainable Agriculture Network.
And while UK consumers will be among the first to see the difference in store the change will have an international impact across Costa's 1000 stores worldwide.
Costa Coffee's Marketing Director, David Hutchinson said: "Costa is at the beginning of a journey towards greater sustainability in its business. We know it will take time to convert our supply base to certified sustainable sources but we believe it's an investment that is right for our business, right for the coffee industry as a whole and we believe it's a journey our customers will want to be part of.
"Costa's success is built on a commitment to quality, authentic espresso coffee. And in Costa's view quality coffee comes from well managed farms that care for their workers and protect the environment on which they, and we, depend. That's why Costa has decided to partner with the Rainforest Alliance to support coffee farmers and communities that are investing in sustainable farming practices," David Hutchinson continued.
Farms that have earned the Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM seal have made improvements in the way the farm is managed including reducing pesticide use, improving worker safety, ensuring workers have decent housing and access to clean water, as well as education and medical care for themselves and their families. Wildlife and water, forests and soils must also be protected.
Each farm in the scheme is inspected by local experts at least once a year, and farms must continue to demonstrate progress in order to maintain their certified status. Farmers often find that the programme pays dividends in more efficient farm management, cost savings and increased production and coffee quality.
The announcement follows the successful establishment of the Costa Foundation in 2006 which supports coffee communities through investment in education and access to clean water and sanitation. In 2007 the Costa Foundation raised more than £300,000 which was invested in building schools, providing teacher housing and teaching materials in Colombia, Ethiopia and Uganda.
Costa Coffee now plans to embed further investment in a sustainable future for coffee growing communities globally through its supply chain. Costa's Mocha Italia blend is roasted in its very own roastery based in Lambeth, South London, and is made up of coffee sourced from eight countries.
In order to achieve the initial 1000 tonne commitment the company will focus on coffee from Guatemala, Colombia, Costa Rica and Brazil but the plans to convert Costa's entire coffee supply will bring the benefits of certification to coffee communities in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Vietnam.
Tensie Whelan, president of the Rainforest Alliance, said: "We are delighted to work with Costa Coffee to bring sustainably sourced coffee to the UK's leading high street coffee chain and to more coffee growing communities globally. Costa's decision is demonstration of their commitment to not just quality coffee but also the quality of life of coffee communities."
Costa is part of the Whitbread family of brands.
Whitbread PLC is the UK's largest hotel and restaurant group, managing market leading businesses in the budget hotels and restaurant sectors, including Premier Inn, Brewers Fayre, Beefeater and Costa Coffee.
Whitbread's strategy is to create value for our shareholders by focusing investment and growing in expanding sectors primarily in the UK but also in selected overseas markets.
The Rainforest Alliance is an independent, international non-profit NGO that works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behaviour. The Rainforest Alliance pioneered the practice of setting standards and certifying well-managed forests nearly 20 years ago, and developed comprehensive principles and standards for sustainable agriculture shortly thereafter. For more information visit: www.rainforest-alliance.org.