Devel­oping more sustain­ability in the coffee sector

GRI 203-1

Besides our approach of quali­fying selected small­holders in the supply chain through Tchibo Joint Forces!® we also want– as in the Non Food sector – to have a broader-scale impact. Above and beyond individual projects and certi­fi­ca­tions, we want to make a contri­bution to the coffee sector’s trans­for­mation towards greater sustain­ability – remaining focussed on the growing regions that are relevant to us. 

This requires a process that is divided into several steps. First of all, it is a matter of initi­ating a dialogue among the relevant stake­holders. In this dialogue, the stake­holders develop possible scenarios for the region relevant to them, posing the question: how can a more sustainable coffee sector be achieved in this region? Building on this, the respective stake­holders are asked to formulate what their specific contri­bution to the solution should and can be. In the coffee sector, we often fail to take this decisive step because the stake­holders and their interests are too varied, the issues too complex, the possible solutions too diverse, and the external influ­ences and changes too strong to reach the goal in a plannable process. But we are confident that it is precisely the diversity of stake­holders and possible paths that will bring us to our goal. By consciously including the diverse perspec­tives and agreeing to small-scale tests for change, we seek to develop a way forward together.  

Trial period in Minas Gerais (Brazil)

In Minas Gerais we are now testing whether this process can succeed in the coffee sector. Minas Gerais is one of the most important Arabica coffee-growing regions in Brazil and is of particular relevance for Tchibo – as for many other inter­na­tional companies – as the main region for sourcing green coffee. We have and many trading partners in this region. There are also well-developed local initia­tives we can cooperate with, such as Certifica Minas or the national Brazilian platform of the Global Coffee Platform (GCP)

During the trial phase in Minas Gerais, we are contributing our experience from compa­rable dialogue processes in the textile sector, the WE (Worldwide Enhancement of Social Quality) quali­fi­cation programme. There, too, we saw that a dialogue process can lead to concrete, albeit initially small, steps. We can derive insights for the coffee sector from this. In the process, we want to test what further steps result from our respon­si­bility and where we have to modify our own behaviour. Our initiative’s approach of exploring new paths was very well received at the launch event in Belo Horizonte in November 2017, which was attended by around 40 stake­holder groups. The workshop showed that there is a clear interest in jointly defining and testing what is required to develop all farmers in a region instead of just looking at the supply chains in isolation. However, it also became clear once again that the inter­re­la­tion­ships are very complex, so that further dialogue is needed to be able to better build on existing struc­tures and estab­lished founda­tions. Tchibo is currently in talks with its local partners to incor­porate their feedback in the further collab­o­ration.  

If the pilot of the dialogue process in Minas Gerais, Brazil proves successful, it would make sense to establish such a process with local stake­holders in other regions as well.