Coffee and the importance of sustainability
The coffee industry is made up of two distinct markets: commodity and specialty.
Commodity-grade coffee is traded in a highly competitive market. For the last several years, a global oversupply of this coffee has kept prices depressed. During 2002, these prices reached all-time historic lows.
Prices for specialty-grade coffee (which is the only grade Starbucks buys) are almost always higher than those commanded by commodity-grade beans. To compare, in fiscal 2002 Starbucks paid an average price of $1.20 per pound against the commodity average price of $0.40-0.50 per pound. But the specialty market only makes up about 10% of total worldwide green coffee purchases.
At Starbucks, we are committed to paying fair prices for the coffee we buy. In addition to the higher prices we pay, we help farmers produce the highest-quality coffee beans in the world, in a manner that will sustain their farms and the industry as a whole.
Coffee farming, like any other business, must be economically feasible to ensure long-term sustainability. Starbucks believes the higher prices we pay helps farmers cover their production costs and better provide for their families. Although our overall purchasing impact may be relatively small, we’ve taken leadership steps to promote environmental and social stewardship in coffee-origin countries.
Coffee sourcing in origin countries
Because our continued success depends upon a long-term supply of quality coffee, Starbucks has initiated several efforts that encourage coffee sustainability while promoting environmental conservation.
You can read about those efforts by clicking on these links: Sourcing guidelines, Coffee purchasing, Access to credit, Fair Trade Certified coffee, Organic coffee, Conservation coffee
Social investments in origin countries
As part of our ongoing commitment to the people and places where Starbucks coffee is grown, we’ve established partnerships with international nonprofit organizations that share our sustainability concerns. We also support community projects to improve the well-being of families in coffee-farming regions.
You can read about a few of these efforts by clicking on these links: Starbucks and CARE, Tazo and Mercy Corps, Other social development projects