Starbucks furthers commitment to sustainable dairy

Smiling person holding Starbucks cup in front of cows in a dairy barn

At Starbucks, we’ve always been committed to working alongside communities to help people thrive and protect the planet. Since the introduction of our first Caffè Latte in 1984, cow’s milk has been an integral ingredient for the company. As a company that works with and relies on the farming community every day, we have a responsibility to help drive solutions to reach our resource positive goals, support farmers and help ensure a sustainable future of dairy.  

Collaborating with farmers to help support a sustainable future is work we’ve done before. Just as with our coffee, Starbucks goal is for the dairy we buy to be produced under high quality and responsible practices.

Starbucks Sustainable Dairy Program 

Toward that effort, in 2022 Starbucks launched its Sustainable Dairy Program in the United States, designed to advance environmental stewardship, help enhance farmer and workforce conditions, and help ensure the quality care of animals. The program provides farmers with tools and information to help ensure a more sustainable dairy industry for future generations, including:  

  • Financial incentives for continuous improvement in the areas of environment, workforce and animal care, as well as annual cost-share funding to support implementation of practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions like methane.  
  • Technical support and assistance specific to carbon and water footprint reduction that will help solve priority issues for dairy farms and communities. For example, in California, Starbucks invested in water meters for farms to help monitor water use and set water reduction goals.  
  • Workforce training in partnership with DairyKind to improve animal handling and reduce on-farm injuries and incidents.  
  • Self-assessment tools in partnership with the Equitable Food Initiative to provide management systems support that help dairies elevate a culture of continuous improvement while providing their workforce with stable and professional working environments. 

Kathryn, a farmer enrolled in the Starbucks Sustainable Dairy Program, shares the sustainable practices her family uses on their farm in California. 

To date, farms representing 100% of the dairy we purchase in California through the California Dairies Inc. cooperative have joined the Starbucks Sustainable Dairy Program. We’ve completed carbon baseline activities and the evaluation of social, environmental and animal care practices on the majority of participating farms in California, Oregon, and Washington. By the end of this fiscal year, we plan to have over 60% of our U.S. supply chain participating in the program.  

Collaboration has been key for Starbucks to implement the program on dairy farms, including partnership with SCS Global Services, who helped tailor a whole farm assessment model that fits the Starbucks dairy supply chain, and Sustainable Environmental Consultants, who have partnered to collect and analyze environmental data from dairy farms and support the development of continuous improvement plans to reduce carbon emissions.  

U.S. Dairy Net Zero Initiative

Smiling person in dairy barn next to row of cows
Jan, partnering dairy farmer at Alliance Dairies in Florida (Tom Hurst)

In 2020, Starbucks joined the U.S. Dairy Net Zero Initiative (NZI), a partnership of the U.S. dairy community working to accelerate industry-wide progress toward achieving greenhouse gas neutrality and improvements in water conservation and quality on farms.  

Through NZI, Starbucks partners directly with farmers in our supply chain and has committed to invest $10 million toward the research and implementation of new practices in feed production to manure management, nutrition and on-farm energy efficiency with the goal of providing farmers with technology and environmental practices. 

An example of how this partnership comes to life is a pilot with Alliance Dairies in Florida implementing a full suite of technologies and practices across several workstreams to demonstrate outcomes that are economically viable and sustainable with the potential to eliminate up to 25% of feed loss, reduce carbon, increase renewable energy and decrease diesel use. The learnings from this pilot will be shared to help more farmers and support impact at scale.

Sunset over a large dairy barn
View of Alliance Dairies and variable frequency fans supporting energy savings (Tom Hurst)

In partnership with the University of Florida, NZI is conducting an enteric methane study determining the ability of daily feed intake and enteric methane emissions measurement to detect reductions in methane production expected from utilizing a feed additive called Rumensin. Additional feed additives are also being vetted for testing to increase the options available for farmers. Results from this work will help to ensure that enteric mitigation practices are effective and economical in a controlled research environment before applying these practices on the farm.

Two people talking in a dairy barn next to a feed dispenser
University of Florida Enteric Emissions Study (Tom Hurst)

Learn more about Starbucks journey to sustainable dairy. 

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Starbucks college admission program helps partners bridge to a better future, no matter the road they take