Coffee is one of the world’s most traded commodities and is a vital export crop for many countries. Competition for the land and resources to grow it are high and producers are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. From Nescafé to Nespresso, the beans we source from farmers around the world go into some of our most iconic brands and bring joy to millions of consumers every day. That is why Nestlé is working to continuously improve our green coffee supply chain and make every cup more responsible.
Our coffee supply chain
We source most of our coffee from smallholders, making them a key part of our global supply chain. The supply chain itself spans more than 30 countries, with each region presenting unique conditions and risks. Demand continues to rise globally, but with other crops competing with coffee for limited arable land, farmers face considerable challenges, including their profitability, managing human rights and the effects of climate change in coffee-growing regions across the world.
Our approach to sourcing coffee sustainably
This year we can proudly say that all our 2020 commitments to improve our green coffee supply chain have been achieved, with some even exceeded. For example, in 2020, we sourced 75% of our total Nescafé coffee supply responsibly, surpassing our goal of 70%. Our performance is due, in part, to our holistic approach to addressing and managing the diverse challenges faced by farmers and rural communities.
We use a comprehensive suite of policies to guide our work, including our Rural Development Framework (pdf, 2Mb), Commitment on Child Labour in Agricultural Supply Chains (pdf, 200Kb), Responsible Sourcing Standard (pdf, 2Mb) and Commitment on Deforestation and Forest Stewardship (pdf, 206Kb). We also support and implement various types of training for farmers that support their economic and environmental resilience and build a body of knowledge around best practices. In 2020 alone, we carried out nearly 65 000 farmer training sessions, despite varying COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing regulations. They focused on techniques such as pruning and optimized fertilization and irrigation, which will help farmers improve how they manage resources and, in many cases, enhance their yields and efficiency.
Additionally, we work with global and local stakeholders – from local communities to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – to develop, support and implement relevant programs and initiatives. These can span empowering farmers with the skills and resources to grow their crops responsibly to reforestation and helping address local human rights issues, such as gender disparities.
We have a constant focus on the traceability of our coffee. Knowing where our beans come from is essential to assessing the suppliers and farmers we source from and empowering them to improve their practices to become part of a more responsible – and sustainable – supply chain.
In 2020, Nespresso published its Positive Cup Impact Assessment Report (pdf, 10Mb) in partnership with the Rainforest Alliance. The report details the work our Nespresso brand has been doing in Latin America since 2010 to source coffee more sustainably and the impact of our AAA Program for responsible sourcing.
In early 2021, we published our Ten Years of the Nescafé Plan report (pdf, 4Mb), which featured voices from several value chain actors, including farmers and partners such as 4C Services and the Rainforest Alliance, and our own agronomists. The report also details the process behind Nescafé’s global Impact Assessment partnership with the Rainforest Alliance and the work we have been doing to implement monitoring and evaluation toolkits across farmer field programs since 2014. The Rainforest Alliance is now conducting annual impact assessments in 13 countries, with a plan to extend this to all 15 countries where we have field programs with farmers.
The rising demand for coffee globally can drive an increase in the amount of land used to grow it. In some cases, this increases the risk of forest clearing, reducing regional biodiversity, harming habitats and amplifying the effects of climate change. Nestlé is collaborating with coffee farmers to help them increase efficiency, grow more coffee on less land and work with their communities to help reforest affected regions and help coffee drive a positive environmental impact.
Planting native trees delivers many important benefits, such as reduced soil erosion, water provision and temperature regulation. That is why it is an important part of Nespresso’s strategy to help coffee growers adapt to climate change. We are very proud to have overperformed against our 2020 target and planted close to 5 million trees in the AAA coffee farms and landscapes.
In Mexico, we have been working with coffee-growing communities since 2001. In the last 10 years, our coffee agronomists have visited more than 6700 coffee farms and delivered over 6000 training sessions that reached more than 100 000 farmers. During the same period, 39.5 million coffee plantlets have been distributed, renovating more than 15 900 hectares and benefiting over 34 000 coffee farmers.
Thanks to these interventions, productivity in Veracruz increased by more than 90% between 2014 and 2019. While in Chiapas, we recorded an increase in the same period of more than 150%.
Protecting workers and children
Nestlé is committed to keeping human rights abuses out of our coffee supply chain, including forced and child labor, and all other forms of labor rights violations. We work to promote and embed best practices to protect and empower the people behind our beans, from farmers to communities.
Our coffee supply chain is a complex global network and, with suppliers in multiple countries, we must observe and comply with a diverse range of regulations and standards.
We work continuously to ensure labor rights compliance across all our coffee origins, focusing on identified hotspots. For example, we currently have intensive monitoring, engagement and remediation programs in Mexico and the Philippines. While the COVID-19 pandemic created some challenges, we continued these programs, working with Certificadora de Productos Sostenibles in Mexico and with Catholic Relief Services in the Philippines.
In Mexico, CPS surveyed 232 medium and large farms across Chiapas and Veracruz for child labor violations. The country’s legal working age is 15, but for agricultural work this increases to 18. The survey results highlighted that, while there is still work to be done, we have made significant progress. Of those surveyed, 19 farms hired minors younger than 18. Unfortunately we found one farm that employed minors younger than 15. While this is unacceptable, it is an improvement from the 12 farms employing minors younger than 15 in 2018/19 crop year. In response to these findings, notification letters were sent to all farms hiring minors, committing them to immediate action to eradicate child labor and regular follow up monitoring by our field team. The 2018/19 farms with identified issues were re-visited and found to be in compliance with the Mexican labor legislation.
In the Philippines, we have focused efforts and resources on raising local awareness of labor rights. In 2020, we completed an initiative designed to share important information on labor issues with nearly 1000 local leaders, farmers and local traders.
Gender equality is a key concern in the coffee supply chain and an important aspect of coffee sustainability. The Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality Program developed a Gender Equality Strategy in 2017 to address this and created a gender analysis tool (pdf, 5Mb) for coffee smallholders to help understand the issues.
As part of this work, Nespresso partnered with the KIT Royal Tropical Institute, an independent body with 25 years’ experience in gender equality work, to co-design and run a gender capacity strengthening program to facilitate transformative change. Operating in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru, the program is building the capacity of more than 250 Nespresso agronomists to bring about deep, structural change for gender equality. It does so through a series of active, participatory learning and action plans over six months, including mentoring and special assignments to complement workshop-based learning. The program also includes field visits, where participants are accompanied by their mentors, to strengthen the understanding of the relationship between agronomists and those they support.
The program is designed to help agronomists question social norms, attitudes, behaviors, power relationships and the social systems that underlie them. Module 1 was implemented in 2019 in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Nicaragua and Peru, with an initial three-day workshop for 219 agronomists. After completing the training, the agronomists will continue their work with coffee co-operatives and farmers’ groups, equipped with a much better understanding of how to identify and address gender inequalities within those communities.
Read more about our work to empower women in our supply chain.
While global market prices for coffee improved during 2020, they remain low. Additionally, COVID-19 had a significant impact on coffee farmers globally. Some tragically lost their lives, others saw the cost of production increase as they negotiated lockdown measures and health guidance in their region. Inevitably, this has had an impact on farmers’ household livelihoods and their ability to continue investing in their farms and on sustainable practices. As the pandemic unfolded, our Nescafé and Nespresso brands unveiled or adapted programs and initiatives to support coffee growers through this unprecedented time.
In 2020, farmers faced yet another challenge to their livelihoods. While the COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted countries and communities around the world, farmers have been particularly affected, with lockdown measures potentially putting harvesting work at risk. In response, Nespresso has created an emergency contingency fund to enable specific interventions such as tests, hygiene kits and food provisions.
In addition to our support throughout the pandemic, in 2020, we actively participated in the International Coffee Organization’s task force call to develop farmer living income benchmarks and pilots for coffee-producing countries. This is one of the ways we continue to be active within the industry to nurture partnerships that can drive positive change at scale.
- Rural Development Framework, update 2015 (pdf, 2Mb)
- Commitment on Child Labour in Agricultural Supply Chains (pdf, 200Kb)
- Corporate Business Principles (pdf, 1Mb)
- Responsible Sourcing Standard (pdf, 2Mb)
- Commitment on Deforestation and Forest Stewardship (pdf, 300Kb)
- Commitment on Farm Animal Welfare (pdf, 1Mb)
- Natural Capital: Water in Agriculture (pdf, 6Mb)
- Natural Capital: Biodiversity (pdf, 4Mb)
- Nestlé Cocoa & Forests Initiative Action Plan (pdf, 860Kb)