”Zoéga’s has offered dark roasted coffee to Swedish consumers for 130 years, but it is not a given that a cup of coffee will be as readily available in the future”, says Claus Boysen, Nordic Marketing Manager at Nescafé. Zoégas, Nescafé and Nespresso are all brands within the food and beverage group Nestlé, one of the world’s major purchasers of coffee.

”Global demand for coffee is growing, but the market is facing several hurdles. Price fluctuations, reduced yield from aging and ill trees, climate change, alternative crops and rising raw material costs. We have to act to secure the future of coffee, and to make sure it does not end up being a luxury article available only to a few. That is why we are rolling out the Nescafé Plan, which is now about to reach the Nordic countries. The plan involves the entire value chain, from farmer to consumer”, Claus continues.

Nescafé Plan

”Nescafé Plan is a global iniative to support the responsible and sustainable farming, production and supply, and consumption of coffee. To make a real impact, strong measures throughout the value chain will be necessary”, Claus Boysen says.

”The majority of the world’s 25 million coffee farmers are smallholders, sustaining themselves almost exclusively on growing coffee. The Nescafé Plan aims to empower as many farmers as possible. We work together with the Rainforest Alliance to help farmers comply with sustainability standards (4C, SAN) and increase productivity. The plan includes economic programmes, such as micro financing and harvest insurance – but farmers are still free to sell their harvest to anyone. The goal was to train 10 000 farmers annually between 2010 and 2020, but the cumulative total of farmers trained already reached 376 500 in 2014.”

”We’re investing heavilly in improving coffee trees through plant science, to develop and distribute high-yield, disease- and climate change-resistant coffee plantlets to farmers. The Nescafé Plan is also an attempt to reduce environmental impact, for example by generating bio energy from waste material, and by a number of recycling initatives. We want to reduce energy consumption by 30 percent and water use by 20 percent. We are also looking at green logistics and smarter packaging”, Claus says. ”Nescafé Plan is also about raising awareness about the coffee market challenges, both with coworkers and consumers. Zoégas, Nescafé and Nespresso are engaged in marketing and in-store activities as well as internal training”.

”The plan is a long-term coffee trading strategy for Nestlé. The group will invest more than 400 million EUR in coffee sustainability projects in the coming ten years. The Nordic goal for 2016 is that all green coffee purchased will comply with 4C standards. Globally, we are aiming to source 90 000 tonnes of Nescafé-coffee compliant with the Sustainable Agriculture Network principles before 2020. In 2013, Nestlé purchased 257 000 tonnes of sustainable coffee, more than any other coffee company in the world”, Claus Boysen says.

Female coffee farmers in Kenya

”To secure the unique taste of Zoéga’s, we need high-quality coffee beans, primarily from East Africa. There is a limited supply of sustainably-farmed coffee in the region, not enough to meet the demand. That is why we in addition to the Nescafé Plan are investing in programmes to train coffee farmers in East Africa in better and sustainable agricultural practices. We are focusing on female farmers in particular, and want 30 percent of the farmers trained to be women”, says Cathrine Ossborn, Marketing Manager at Zoéga’s.

”In the 1980s, Kenya produced more than 128 000 tonnes of coffee. Today, production has fallen to 50 000 tonnes, and only a small amount is farmed sustainably. Other less arduous sources of income with better yields, such as flower-growing, is one reason. Another is that farmers no longer receive state aid to develop their plantations, which has reduced yield and efficiency”, Cathrine continues.

Encouraging women and young people to move into coffee farming is one way to improve the outlook. Half of the world’s coffee farmers are women, but they hold fewer than 5 percent of leadership roles. Traditionally, men has been running the plantations, and women have had less access to education.

”We want to include as many coffee farmers as possible and that is why we want 30 percent of the farmers in our training programmes to be women. Coffee farming is often a family business, and it is important to include both men and women in the projects. Women also tend to invest their income more responsibly and long-term. Women’s income is more often reinvested in the farm, their workers and family, or other business activities. This improves their financial security and makes continous farming operations more likely. Often, women work in cooperatives – a proven method in sustainable coffee farming. The women in Zoega’s projects are offered free education in coffee production, leadership, standards and certification, trust-building and self-development. In 2015, new projects were launched in Kenya and other parts of East Africa. Step by step, we are making the transition to responsibly farmed coffee beans in all of our blends, aiming to reach 100 percent before the end of 2015”, Cathrine Ossborn concludes.

The article was published in November 2015