LONDON — Nestlé will spend more than a billion Swiss francs ($1 billion) to source coffee sustainably by 2030, the food giant said on Tuesday, more than double its previous commitment.
The move provides further evidence of how major consumer goods companies are making changes to decades-old operating systems due to concerns about climate change.
Numerous studies have shown that by 2050, about half of the land currently used for growing coffee, especially the high-quality Arabica variety, could be unproductive due to rising temperatures, drought and disease.
Multinational companies are now facing growing reputational and legal pressure from consumers and governments to clean up their global supply chains in the fight against climate change.
The European Commission has proposed several laws to prevent the import and use of products linked to environmental and human rights abuses and to prohibit them in cases of forced labour.
Nestlé, which has already pledged to source all of its coffee sustainably by 2025, said it aims for 20% of its coffee to be grown using ‘regenerative’ farming methods.
These include the cultivation of catch crops to protect the soil, the use of organic fertilizers to improve soil fertility, and the increased use of agroforestry and catch crops to conserve biodiversity, all with the aim of halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
The company’s statement announcing its plan to double spending on sustainable coffee sourcing says it is “committed to supporting farmers who bear the risks and costs associated with transitioning to regenerative agriculture”, and will offer programs to help them improve their income.
A major coffee report published last year says there is little evidence that the efforts of the world’s top coffee roasters and traders to prevent human rights and environmental abuses are having any impact , because most farmers operate at a loss, unable to produce sustainably.
According to the report, the retail coffee sector is valued at $200-250 billion a year, but producing countries receive less than 10% of that value when exporting beans, and farmers even less.
Around 125 million people worldwide depend on coffee for their livelihoods, while around 80% of coffee farming families live at or below the poverty line, according to non-profit organizations Fairtrade and Technoserve.
- Editor/ main report by Reuters