In both unexpected and unprecedented turn of events, 2012 saw a huge increase in the amount of growth of sustainable coffee imported from developing nations. Sales of the environmentally friendly Rainforest Alliance certified coffee jumped from 3.3 percent global output in 2011 to an astounding 4.5 percent in 2012, and imports of the certified coffee jumped 18 percent in the United States and Canada; effectively shifting the paradigm of business efficacy in regards to the future of sustainably sourced products.
The increase in 2012 sales is thanks in part to the efforts of Rainforest Alliance and Fair-Trade USA, two US-based non-profits that work to both train and certify overseas growers in techniques that encourage sustainable farming practices. These two non-profits have also sought to change public demands for products that promote responsible environmental stewardship abroad. Surprisingly, the growth of sustainable coffee has been bolstered primarily by its sales to US-based fast food companies such as Caribou Coffee Co. and McDonald’s USA, which recently shifted 100 percent of their espresso coffee beans to be sourced from Rainforest Alliance certified coffee growers.
In regards to the huge growth of sustainable coffee, Rainforest Alliance’s press release remarked that “Over 118,000 coffee farms covering almost 800,000 acres (323,500 hectares) are now Rainforest Alliance Certified and meet rigorous standards for best practices and environmental and social sustainability.”
By empowering farmers in developing nations to produce crops using environmentally sustainable methods such as those utilized by Rainforest Alliance certified coffee growers, American consumers can – through their purchasing power – effectively mitigate the systemic global poverty afflicting many South American countries. Furthermore, as the growth of sustainable coffee provides increased economic incentives for many residents of the global south, global poverty levels will continue to contract as certified coffee sales expand.
– Brian Turner