Sara Lee announces five-year sustainable coffee plan

By Helen Glaberson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Agriculture, Coffee, Sustainability

Sara Lee has announced a five-year initiative to increase its purchase of sustainable coffee as part of the company’s wider goal to use only sustainably certified commodities in its products worldwide.

20 per cent goal

UTZ CERTIFIED claims to be one of the world’s leading coffee certification programs. UTZ’s goal is “to achieve sustainable agricultural supply chains that meet the growing needs and expectations of farmers, the food industry and consumers”.

By 2015, Sara Lee, which ranks third worldwide in coffee volume behind Nestle and Kraft foods, said it will have more than 20 per cent of its entire annual coffee volume certified as sustainable.

Sara Lee estimates that its sustainability investments can deliver up to $100m of income for coffee farmers, their associations and representatives. The company claims this is more than they would have earned on the open market.

Frank van Oers, CEO of Sara Lee's international beverage and bakery businesses said, "By providing coffee growers visibility five years out and publicly committing to buy very large quantities of certified coffee we can contribute to improve sustainability in the mainstream coffee market worldwide."

Sara Lee also announced that it is expanding the number of sustainable certification partners with which it works. Although the UTZ CERTIFIED Foundation will remain Sara Lee's main partner for sustainable certification, the company said it will also liase with other programs such as the Rainforest Alliance.

The company claims to be the first to bring to market UTZ CERTIFIED Good Inside tea in 2010 which also forms part of its certification commitment.

In addition, Sara Lee is a long-standing member of the Ethical Tea Partnership, an international non-commercial alliance of 20 tea-packers.
Nestle’s coffee chain

Nestle's coffee chain

Last August Nestle also announced plans to invest CHF 500m (€385m) to improve its coffee supply chain through closer cooperation with farmers.

Building on the CHF 200m that Nestle has invested over the past 10 years, the Swiss company is putting aside CHF 500m for coffee projects through to 2020.

Nestle plans to link up with coffee association 4C and non-governmental organisations including the Rainforest Alliance and the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) in pursuit of its goals.

One of the key objectives will be to increase the amount of coffee purchased directly from producers. Over the next five years, Nestle said it plans to double its coffee purchases from farmers and their associations to around 180,000 tonnes a year.

Related topics: Markets, Tea and Coffee

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