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Beyond the cup: key findings from our sustainable coffee report

In the modern world, it’s no longer enough to just be a company that provides great products. It’s critical that your business is environmentally conscious and that you’re taking meaningful measures to reduce your impact on the planet. As coffee is an integral part of millions of Australians' daily routines, this gives many businesses the opportunity and responsibility to choose sustainable coffee products, from crop to cup. Here at Lavazza, we stand for more than just great quality coffee - we’re wholeheartedly driven by our core business values of caring for the environment, opening up opportunities, and educating for change.

In our most recent sustainability report where we reflect on the progress of our sustainability mission, we identify Gender Equality, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Responsible Production and Consumption and, of course, Climate Action as our top priorities. The purpose of this report is to encourage others to see the value of sustainable coffee and how this can transform communities and contribute to the global pursuit of achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The importance of sustainable coffee

Environmental Social Governance (ESG) gets thrown around a lot now, but it’s no longer just a buzzword - people are actually turning away from brands that won’t embrace greener practices and more ethical standards. Sustainability is a key consideration for employees and consumers alike with many reports finding that people are even willing to pay more for a high-quality, sustainable product over a cheaper, non-eco-friendly counterpart.

At Lavazza, we know first-hand that inaction on environmental sustainability could have a monumentally negative impact. Rising temperatures as a result of climate change are posing significant threats to coffee crops as well as the working conditions of the 3 billion people around the world. That’s why we’re committed to producing socially, economically and environmentally sustainable coffee. Our goal is to help coffee growers improve the quality and sustainability of their yields through agricultural training and empowering them to develop their enterprising skills.

Sustainable coffee report

There is a clear intersectional relationship between environmental sustainability and social justice and equality. When we work cooperatively to educate, support and bridge economic and ethical gaps it has profoundly positive flow-on effects for environmental preservation. As such, this report highlights the belief that it’s our moral obligation to uplift minorities and help combat environmental issues by focusing on the following areas:

Gender Equality

Women make up a significant number of the coffee, food and beverage industry and contribute to its viability and prosperity on a daily basis. However, we recognise that there is still a considerable way to go in bridging the gender equality gap. Our report found that 70% of the world’s coffee is harvested by women, but only 20% of that coffee-growing land is owned by women and in the wider industry, women only fill 30% of management roles.

To help build an inclusive coffee industry that reflects our values, we’re committed to offering equal opportunities for training and development initiatives that also support a work-life balance. So, we’ve initiated Phase 2 of our GAP FREE program where we assess the level of women’s participation in our company and plan to have at least 40% of senior roles filled by women before 2030 and work to promote this for the wider coffee industry.

Decent Work and Economic Growth

Fair working conditions, respect for human rights, abolishing child labour throughout the supply chain, and the development of partnerships and projects along the way are critical for sustainable, economic growth. Working closely with Save the Children, Lavazza’s non-profit branch, the Giuseppe and Pericle Lavazza Foundation has been able to help 100,000 children and young beneficiaries by promoting, educating and supporting health and safety for mothers, children and adolescents. The initiatives have been developed in nine different countries: Italy, Yemen, Indonesia, Nepal, India, Ivory Coast, China, Vietnam and Myanmar. The project has transformed the lives of countless communities who, thanks to receiving an education, now have the prospect of a better life.

A better life also involves educating communities to be independent and self-reliant. For example, Guatemala has Latin America’s highest rate of malnutrition at 46.5% and Chiquimula, one of its departments, has 70.6% of its population living below the poverty line. So Chiquimula became the subject of one of our rural development projects which aims to improve access to food for vulnerable households by educating families on sustainable agricultural techniques, so they can become self-sufficient and economically stable. This includes establishing coffee nurseries for distribution and trade, providing disease-resistant seeds for stronger crops, and training for sustainable livestock farming with greener practices. 

Responsible Production and Consumption

The Province of Napo is the gateway to the Ecuadorian Amazon and is often referred to as the lungs of the earth with remarkable biodiversity. It’s also home to several indigenous populations devoted to growing coffee in a way that protects the environmental heritage from deforestation and prohibits the use of chemical contaminants.

In 2021, we launched a project in partnership with NGO, ENGIM, designed to boost production and trade for two cooperatives in the region: Waylla Kuri and Jatary. This included the delivery of 11,700 coffee plants and 4,600 forest trees to 104 producers; measures to upgrade the sustainable coffee bean collection centres by purchasing machines and tools, constructing a new eco-friendly drying glasshouse and an innovative café laboratory with natural, recycled materials and sustainable technologies. We also implemented a clean drinking water system for 80 homes by installing a 15,000-litre water tank and activated environmental education courses to improve the lives of everyone in the region.  

Climate Action

Coffee is the agricultural commodity that has suffered the most significant price-hikes, with an 81% increase on Arabica beans in a year, beating both the global commodity index and the energy and industrial metals sectors. Robusta wasn’t far behind, growing by 78%. This was largely to do with crops affected by extreme weather events. First, the drought in Brazil that resulted in a poor Arabica harvest in an already off-cycle year, and then some of the worst frost experienced in decades made next year’s harvest forecast particularly bleak. In Colombia, severely heavy rains put the production of the 14 million bags at risk

Lavazza recognises that climate action is fundamental and with our gaze cast towards the future, we aim to make 71% of our packaging completely recyclable by 2025. Already, 65% of Lavazza’s product packaging is currently recyclable. Moving further along with our plight towards net zero emissions, 100% of the electricity powering our plants is renewable across 4 nations, and several of our product ranges are completely carbon neutral.

What's next?

We’re really positive about the progress we’ve made as a global company on a local scale, in the many places we operate. We feel confident that as we engage key stakeholders, continue to partner with pioneering organisations, and provide ongoing support and education to thousands of communities, we can truly help curb environmental degradation, deliver on our promise and create a better future.

In 2022 we saw even greater involvement of traders as we expand the scope of the suppliers involved, increase the number of sustainable coffee plantations and educate farmers on greener practices - with the ultimate goal to reduce our environmental impact towards zero. For more insights into how Lavazza is leading the way in sustainable coffee production, get our full 2021 Sustainability Report here

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