Starbucks, Fairtrade Foundation to support smallscale farmers

Starbucks UK and the Fairtrade Foundation have today announced details of the company’s industry-leading support for small-scale coffee farmers.

The new commitment means that 100 per cent of the espresso coffee sold – both whole bean and espresso-based beverages – in Starbucks stores in the UK and Ireland will become both Starbucks Shared Planet and Fairtrade Certified by the end of 2009. Starbucks' espresso-based coffees include the cappuccino and caffe latte, and make up the vast majority of Starbucks beverages.

The UK and Ireland announcement is part of a broader global commitment with the Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO), first announced last month in New Orleans.

The 100% Fairtrade Certified Espresso in the UK and Ireland forms part of a global plan that will mean Starbucks will become the largest purchaser of Fairtrade Certified coffee in the world, doubling its global purchases to 40 million pounds of fairly traded coffee in 2009, and delivering Fairtrade premiums for investment in community and business improvements by the small farmer organisations.

Speaking at the launch event today with the Fairtrade Foundation, Starbucks chairman, president and CEO Howard Schultz commented, “This announcement marks an important milestone in our long-term commitment to ethical sourcing and support for coffee farmers and their communities, as well as our partnership approach to Starbucks Shared Planet.

“Now, by linking our efforts with the global Fairtrade labelling movement, we will be able to have an even larger impact on small farmers particularly with the opening of Starbucks Farmer Support Centers in Ethiopia and Rwanda early next year.”

Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation UK, said, “The partnership between Fairtrade and Starbucks is good news for farmers, good news for coffee lovers and a wake up call to the wider coffee industry.

"The public has taken Fairtrade to its heart, and so we’re delighted that they will soon be able to get 100% Fairtrade certified espresso drinks in Starbucks, from high streets to train stations and workplaces.

"Farmers need Fairtrade now more than ever, and even though these are difficult economic times, people across the country are staying loyal to their ethical values and to Fairtrade.

"We commend Starbucks for showing such visionary leadership in responding both to farmers’ needs and consumers’ interests.”

Darcy Willson-Rymer, Starbucks managing director UK & Ireland said, “I am delighted that we are introducing 100% Starbucks Shared Planet and Fairtrade Certified espresso into our UK coffeehouses. Consumers here have high levels of awareness about ethical issues, in particular, those relating to the sourcing of products. We believe that working with Fairtrade both in the UK and globally demonstrates our real commitment to creating change in this area.”

The Fairtrade Foundation joins the Fairtrade Labelling Organisations (FLO), Conservation International (CI) and the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) as partners in the Starbucks Shared Planet commitment to ethical sourcing.

In addition to increased purchases, Starbucks, FLO, CI and AWF will work with Fairtrade farmers to enhance coffee quality and profitability through improved environmental and agricultural practices and to specifically expand the number of farmers participating in C.A.F.E. Practices, the ethical coffee buying guidelines for Starbucks Shared Planet and the Fairtrade Certified system.

By joining forces, the groups said they hope to increase their combined positive impact on coffee farmers, their communities and the environment. Integral to the success of this effort, they said, would be the Starbucks Farmer Support Centers in Costa Rica and Africa, as well as the current investments the company is making in programs such as Root Capital, Calvert Fund and Verde Ventures that provide farmers access to credit.