Nescafé Targets Coffee Sustainability with $350M Investment

VEVEY, Switzerland — Nestlé is investing 350 million Swiss francs ($344 million) over the next decade to expand its reach into sustainable coffee farming, make its factories more efficient and reduce its packaging. Beyond the Cup: The Nescafe Plan is the company's global project that adds onto the nearly $200 million already spent on coffee projects.

Nestlé aims to double the amount of Nescafé, the instant coffee that it says is consumed at a rate of 4,600 cups a second around the world, that it buys directly from farmers to 180,000 tonnes (403 million pounds) by 2015. Also within the next five years it plans to have all of its purchases of unroasted coffee beans meet the standards laid out by the Common Code for the Coffee Community Association (4C).

In addition, by 2020 Nestlé wants to source 90,000 tonnes of Nescafé coffee beans from farms that comply with Rainforest Alliance and Sustainable Agriculture Network principles.

Nestlé has a number of plans to provide more assistance to farmers and help them work in more sustainable ways. In the Ethiopian village of Hama, which produces Yirgacheffe Arabica coffee beans, a team from Nestlé found that farmers were using old equipment to strip the pulp off coffee beans, in turn wasting water and the pulp while polluting rivers with the pulp. The team brought in modern equipment that uses around 95 percent less water and results in pulp that can be used as compost.

Nestlé intends to increase its number of agronomists from 24 to 96 and bring its number of field technicians up to 350, which will allow the company to provide assistance and advice like that given in Hama to 10,000 farmers a year. The company will also distribute 220 million high-yield, disease-resistance plants to farmers by 2020 and set up 300 demonstration farms to show off best practices.

To reduce its direct impacts, Nestlé is investing funds into its own factories to reduce energy use by 20 percent per tonnne produced by 2020, reduce waste use by 30 percent per tonne by 2020 and use spent coffee grounds as fuel in all factories.

Through small changes to glass jars and single-serve packages,  Nestlé has reduced its Nescafé packaging needs, and intends to continue reducing packaging weight and volume while using more renewable and recycled content.

In Japan,  Nestlé reduced the amount of glass it uses by 7,672 tonnes between 2004 and 2008 by smoothing out angles in its glass jars and improving how uniformly glass is distributed. It also cut out 252 tonnes of plastic by making the jar caps lighter. Japan also saw the introduction of new single-serve coffee sticks that use 27 percent less material than previous single-serve packets, accounting for 200 tonnes less of packaging material.

Nescafe jars - CC license by Flickr user pppspics