Developing more sustainability in the coffee sector
Besides our approach of qualifying selected smallholders in the supply chain through Tchibo Joint Forces!® we also want– as in the Non Food sector – to have a broader-scale impact. Above and beyond individual projects and certifications, we want to make a contribution to the coffee sector’s transformation towards greater sustainability – remaining focussed on the growing regions that are relevant to us.
This requires a process that is divided into several steps. First of all, it is a matter of initiating a dialogue among the relevant stakeholders. In this dialogue, the stakeholders develop possible scenarios for the region relevant to them, posing the question: how can a more sustainable coffee sector be achieved in this region? Building on this, the respective stakeholders are asked to formulate what their specific contribution to the solution should and can be. In the coffee sector, we often fail to take this decisive step because the stakeholders and their interests are too varied, the issues too complex, the possible solutions too diverse, and the external influences and changes too strong to reach the goal in a plannable process. But we are confident that it is precisely the diversity of stakeholders and possible paths that will bring us to our goal. By consciously including the diverse perspectives and agreeing to small-scale tests for change, we seek to develop a way forward together.
Trial period in Minas Gerais (Brazil)
In Minas Gerais we are now testing whether this process can succeed in the coffee sector. Minas Gerais is one of the most important Arabica coffee-growing regions in Brazil and is of particular relevance for Tchibo – as for many other international companies – as the main region for sourcing green coffee. We have and many trading partners in this region. There are also well-developed local initiatives we can cooperate with, such as Certifica Minas or the national Brazilian platform of the Global Coffee Platform (GCP).
During the trial phase in Minas Gerais, we are contributing our experience from comparable dialogue processes in the textile sector, the WE (Worldwide Enhancement of Social Quality) qualification programme. There, too, we saw that a dialogue process can lead to concrete, albeit initially small, steps. We can derive insights for the coffee sector from this. In the process, we want to test what further steps result from our responsibility and where we have to modify our own behaviour. Our initiative’s approach of exploring new paths was very well received at the launch event in Belo Horizonte in November 2017, which was attended by around 40 stakeholder groups. The workshop showed that there is a clear interest in jointly defining and testing what is required to develop all farmers in a region instead of just looking at the supply chains in isolation. However, it also became clear once again that the interrelationships are very complex, so that further dialogue is needed to be able to better build on existing structures and established foundations. Tchibo is currently in talks with its local partners to incorporate their feedback in the further collaboration.
If the pilot of the dialogue process in Minas Gerais, Brazil proves successful, it would make sense to establish such a process with local stakeholders in other regions as well.