Updated April 2022
A Holistic Approach to Ethical Sourcing
We strive to cultivate lasting relationships with the people who grow our products and create our manufactured goods as we work together to produce high-quality, ethically sourced products. Our approach includes responsible purchasing practices, farmer support efforts, social responsibility standards for suppliers, and environmental programs.
The cornerstone of our approach to sourcing coffee is Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices, our comprehensive coffee-buying program that ensures coffee quality while promoting social, economic and environmental standards. Developed in collaboration with Conservation International, farms and mills are evaluated using a comprehensive scorecard of more than 200 indicators by third-party verification organizations, overseen by SCS Global Services. In fiscal year 2021, due to restrictions caused by COVID-19, auditing teams were unable to complete all the necessary in-person, on-farm audits to renew their active status in the program. As a result, 94.86% of our coffee in fiscal 2021 was sourced from C.A.F.E. Practice-verified farms.
In total, Starbucks has invested more than $70 million in collaborative farmer programs and activities over the past 40 years, which include C.A.F.E. practices, farmer support centers, farmer loans and forest carbon projects. In 2013, we decided to expand these efforts with the development of a global agronomy center in Costa Rica. Read more about this effort here.
Sourcing certified tea is a key aspect of our ethical sourcing approach. In fiscal year 2021, Global Coffee, Tea & Cocoa, the company’s global coffee sourcing team, sourced 99.9% of tea from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. Farms, forest communities, and businesses that participate in Rainforest Alliance’s certification program are audited against rigorous sustainability standards based on the triple bottom line: environmental, economic and social well-being.
Like coffee and tea, we are dedicated to sourcing cocoa responsibly, for the betterment of people and planet. In FY21, Global Coffee, Tea and Cocoa, the company’s global coffee sourcing team, purchased 10 million kilograms of segregated cocoa beans from Starbucks dedicated cooperatives in the Ivory Coast through our Tier 1 supplier, Cargill. We are a member of the World Cocoa Foundation and continue to work with others across the industry to evolve and strengthen our approach to responsibly sourced cocoa.
Whether it’s the merchandise on our shelves, the furniture in our stores or the aprons worn by our baristas, we’ve set strong standards for our suppliers and offer them assistance when corrections need to be made to their business practices. Adherence to those standards informs our sourcing decisions and ensures we are working with suppliers who share our commitment to ethical sourcing. Our buyers work directly with suppliers, negotiating contracts for the products we need in our operations or sell to our customers.
We know our success as a company is linked to the success of the thousands of farmers who grow our coffee. Starting in 2004 with our first farmer support center in Costa Rica, Starbucks agronomists collaborate directly with coffee farmers to encourage responsible growing practices and improve the quality and size of their harvests. We have continued to expand the program, and share our coffee knowledge with farming communities through our satellite office in Guatemala City and additional farmer support centers in Kigali, Rwanda and Mbeya, Tanzania. In fiscal year 2021, we opened our 10th farmer support center in Brazil.
In 2013, the company bought its first coffee farm: Hacienda Alsacia in Costa Rica. To help farmers, and ensure the future of coffee, the mission of Hacienda Alsacia is clear: apply best practices to make growing coffee more profitable; develop the next generation of disease-resistant, quality coffee; and share it all with farmers around the world. Located on the slopes of the Poás Volcano in Costa Rica, the 240 hectare farm has become Starbucks global agronomy headquarters.
The Starbucks Global Farmer Fund was created to improve supply chain resiliency and ensure a long-term supply of coffee by addressing the unmet business financing needs of farmers. Too often, farmers cannot turn to traditional banks for business lending because of high interest rates. The low-interest loans provided through the fund allow farmers to plant new trees, improve their infrastructure and build financial resiliency in the face of shifts in climate and markets. In FY21, Starbucks committed an additional $50 million dollars to double the fund. Since its establishment, Starbucks has deployed $54.8 million to coffee businesses and farmers through low-interest loans.