Malaysian Farmers Benefit from Starbucks Connecting Communities Project

Weaving with Mengkuang leaves used to be a leisurely pastime of coastal women in Malaysia. Today, a small Malaysian business is revisiting this craft and selling Mengkuang products in Starbucks® stores.

“Giving back to Malaysian communities is important to our company as well as our partners (employees),” said Sydney Quays, managing director, Starbucks Malaysia. “Featuring products from small villages provides increased exposure and ultimately contributes to the livelihood of local residents.”

Earlier this year, Starbucks Malaysia developed a relationship with Craft CT 01 Enterprise – a small company is located on the east coast of Malaysia. The business develops products made from Mengkuang, a tropical plant with tall, thorny leaves. Their products including hot cup sleeves, coasters and placemats are currently sold in 50 Starbucks locations throughout the country.

“We have seen a great deal of interest in the Mengkuang products since we began selling them in our stores,” Quays said.

Sourcing of Mengkuang products is one outcome of Starbucks Malaysia’s Connecting Communities Project, which has helped farmers and their families since 2013. As part of this project, Starbucks also purchased a sizable amount of fresh bananas from small farmers in the Kampung Lubak Jaya village on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The bananas were used to develop the Signature Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin and Banana Chocolate Decadence, offered in West Malaysia Starbucks® stores.

“The banana-based food items are quite popular with our customers,” added Quays.

The first Starbucks® store in Malaysia opened in Kuala Lumpur in 1998. The company reached a milestone of 200 stores in the country this past September.The 200th store, known as Starbucks Ansa, is located in what was formerly the Piccolo Hotel. The store design aims to introduce customers to the Connecting Communities Project through a community table with banana and Mengkuang leaf carvings, a merchandise wall dedicated to Mengkuang products and specially-woven Mengkuang mats that serve as wall hangings.

“We will continue to find ways to grow our Connecting Communities Project. There is more we can do positively impact the lives of Malaysia’s small farmers and businesses,” said Quays.

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What’s inside a more accessible and inclusive Starbucks store?