Starbucks pledges additional $30 million to support coffee farmers

2 July 2015

Coffee company Starbucks has more than doubled its investment in a fund to provide financing for farmers as part of its ethical sourcing initiative.

The farmer financing scheme includes medium and long-term investments to help provide stability and manage climate variables by supporting agronomy, restoration and infrastructure improvements.

The company said it would add another $30 million (£19 million) to its Global Farmer Fund programme. This will be in addition to the $20 million (£13 million) it contributed in 2008, in collaboration with Root Capital and the Fairtrade Access Fund.

Starbucks said so far the financing had reached more than 62 cooperatives in eight countries benefitting more than 40,000 farmers. It said the work directly influences coffee quality, sustainability and overall profitability for the entire specialty coffee industry.

Craig Russell, executive vice president of global coffee for Starbucks said: “By providing access to capital, farmers have the ability to make strategic investments in their infrastructure, offering the stability they need to manage ongoing complexities so that there is a future for them and the industry.”

The fund is part of a strategy that includes buying coffee from more than 30 countries worldwide and offering it to customers in single origin, blend and small-lot programs and beverages. Starbucks’ ethical sourcing program includes a network of six farmer support centres located around the world (Rwanda, Tanzania, Colombia, China, Costa Rica and Ethiopia) as well as the purchase of a farm in Costa Rica that acts as a global agronomy centre. In 2015 Starbucks verified 99 per cent of its coffee as ethically sourced.

William Fulbright Foote, founder and chief executive of Root Capital, said the fund helps create better suppliers. “Farmers who receive loans from Root Capital are able to increase their livelihoods and become more reliable and resilient suppliers by improving environmental protection, crop yields, and product quality, thereby becoming more reliable and resilient suppliers,” he said.

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