Sustainability Panel on Coffee at Asoexport 2014


As part of the 2014 Assembly of the National Coffee Exporters Association (ASOEXPORT), we held a panel on sustainability in the coffee sector that featured participation by representatives of the most important roasters around the world, including Nestlé, Starbucks, and Tchibo.


The main objective of this event was to discuss the current state of affairs in sustainability in the coffee value chain. It allowed us to gauge the commitment of these multinationals to sustainable coffee, especially in Colombia.


Here are excerpts of what some of our guest panelists shared at the event:


"Sustainable markets are developing positively. Today we see more pressure and need to change things, and European markets are demanding sustainable products. That is why we are developing new projects in the field of coffee and working in partnership with the Sustainable Coffee Program of IDH, in order to more strongly engage with the issue of sustainability," indicated Philip von der Goltz, Tchibo's Senior Manager of Corporate Responsibility on the importance these issues hold to being more competitive in local and global markets.


"Nestlé's economic success should go hand-in-hand with its social component. We should equally benefit our entire value chain through our efforts at making it sustainable. That's why we've been working on sustainability issues for more than 60 years, especially in our Creating Shared Value Program," commented Ricardo Piedrahita, Director of NESCAFÉ Plan Colombia at Nestlé.


"I think that we can achieve this with much more technical assistance in the field. We have seen that coffee growers lack knowledge about their own farm, not even knowing their production costs. The only way to help them is through technical assistance at the farm level. We think that this can bring down input costs and increase productivity, so that production costs are lower and income levels are higher," said Tim Scharrer, Director of Starbucks Trading Company.


This discussion revealed that major roasters are definitely committed to the sustainability of the sector and to buying sustainable coffee from countries like Colombia. Challenges and next steps have been identified. However, the most significant take-away was recognising the magnitude this opportunity holds for Colombia to become a world leader in sustainable coffee production.