Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the world-renowned professor of economics and sustainable development expert, says coffee conglomerates such as JAB and Nestlé need to do more to make coffee sustainable and help farmers.
Addressing a 6 June 2019 symposium initiated by the International Coffee Organization, ‘Meeting the SDGs: challenges for the coffee value chain,’ that took place in Brussels in partnership with the European Coffee Federation, that was hosted by the European Commission, Professor Sachs highlighted the consolidation that has taken place in the coffee industry, the growing market power of a few companies that now have a dominant role in the industry, and in marketing of coffee to consumers.
Professor Sachs, who is working on a study on sustainable development in the coffee sector for the World Coffee Producers Forum that will be released in July 2019, called on coffee leaders at coffee companies such as JAB and Nestlé to do more to help the coffee sector achieve sustainable development goals.
“There are a lot of people in the coffee supply chain who don’t have access to health and education, SDGs 3 and 4. Big challenges remain in the coffee sector with regard to SDGs,” Professor Sachs said, “and there are major environmental challenges for the sector as a whole.
“The coffee industry as an industry needs to do more to achieve SDGs. It does not have an industry-wide SDG approach, it does not have adequate funding for farmers in need of upscaling productivity, the metrics are not adequate, and the transparency is not adequate.
“The core of our report is to call on the industry to step up,” Professor Sachs said, “and to call on industry leaders, especially Nestlé and JAB and others, to do more, not only for their own business lines but for the sector as a whole. Consumers want to know that the people in the supply chain are being availed of their rights under SDGs for access to health care, education and basic infrastructure. This would mean added contributions by the major roasters and retailers or some kind of consumer tax that would be reverted to the poor people in the coffee value chain.
“We need to discuss these issues. Companies may not be happy about being told that they have to do more socially, but this is the reality, especially in an industry where there are a few high-share companies. We need to see that leadership, not only in the companies’ own line, but for the sector as a whole.”