Starbucks: Distributes Coffee Trees to Farmers

Seattle / WA. (sc) Starbucks Coffee Company expanded its commitment to supporting the specialty coffee industry by addressing one of the most significant threats to coffee farmers. Beginning immediately, Starbucks will distribute coffee trees to farmers who have been most impacted by coffee rust, a plant fungus that damages millions of coffee trees around the world, making it harder for farmers to produce high-quality coffee for the entire industry. Through September 2016, Starbucks will ensure that a coffee tree is planted for every bag of coffee purchased in a participating U.S. store.

«Purchasing from more than thirty countries, Starbucks scale affords us the opportunity to bring customers the most unique, high quality coffee from around the world. It also gives us the responsibility to make sure we invest in tangible ways that help to ensure farmer livelihoods and the stability of the entire supply for the industry», said Craig Russell, executive vice president, Global Coffee for Starbucks. «We have heard directly from farmers that helping them get new rust resistant trees will make the most impact. We are figuring out the way to do that while offering our customers an opportunity to get involved».

Beginning in Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador, Starbucks will work with Sustainable Management Services (SMS), Starbucks partner in the export and delivery of green coffee, to successfully germinate the seedlings and distribute the trees. The distribution of each coffee tree will be supported by Starbucks Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices, developed over a decade ago with Conservation International to safeguard responsible purchasing practices and economic, social and environmental standards, globally. These sourcing standards are then augmented by Starbucks Farmer Support Centers that provide on-the-ground agronomy services. Today, Starbucks has six farmer support locations around the world and will add two more – one in Sumatra, Indonesia in 2015 and another in Mexico opening in 2016.

Starbucks Mexico implemented a similar coffee tree revitalization program just last year called Todos Sembramos Café (We All Grow Coffee), distributing over 180’000 rust resistant plants to more than 60 coffee farms in Chiapas and helping to provide resources and training to improve the quality of their crops and maintain the stability of their lands. An additional 360’000 coffee trees will be donated in the program’s second year, totalling over a half a million trees.

«The rust was destroying our yields, cutting production by 40 to 60 percent», said Martiniano Moreno, coffee farmer from Chiapas supporting a family of eight. «It was very difficult to watch. Our entire community relies on coffee. It is who we are. It is how we take care of our families; our children».

To date, Starbucks has invested more than 70 million USD in its comprehensive approach to ethical sourcing; supporting coffee farming communities, helping to mitigate the impact of climate change, and supporting long-term crop stability and farm sustainability. Through these initiatives and Starbucks comprehensive approach to sourcing high quality coffee, farmers will have the support they need to manage climate variables and improve the infrastructure of their crops, influencing coffee quality, sustainability and overall profitability for the entire specialty coffee industry (Image: Starbucks).