Beverage Industry Addresses Sustainable Agriculture


Growing concerns about agricultural issues have instigated different initiatives from companies within the tea and coffee market. A strategy to face this challenge is to cooperate with NGOs (non-governmental organisations), such as Rainforest Alliance.

Rainforest Alliance is an NGO based in New York with offices worldwide. It promotes standards of sustainability to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behaviour.

Unilever purchases more than 10% of the world’s black tea supply for its brand, Lipton. In 1998, the company published its sustainable tea guidelines to interested suppliers. Since then, Lipton has achieved different goals. Last year, 15% of the company’s tea came from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. This year, all Lipton Yellow Label tea bags in Western Europe contain tea from these sustainable certified farms. But this is not enough — Lipton has set the ambitious goal of filling all its tea bags with tea from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms by 2015.

Kraft Foods also partnered with Rainforest Alliance. It aims to source all its coffee beans from sustainably certified farms in Latin America. Other companies, like Nestle and Mars Drinks, are now patronising sustainable certified coffee beans as well.

For consumers, a corporation with a conscience about the well-being of the planet and its people is always a plus. It is recommended that Food and Beverage companies, in tandem with a sound sustainable policy, also highlight their good relationship with their workers, consumers, and other community members.

The initiatives of some of the global players demonstrate that making a corporation sustainable-friendly entails much effort in planning and execution, and also involves added expenses. However, some argue that being responsible provides profits that are not just monetary. It is an investment in the environment as well as in consumers, employees, and members of society in general.