Beverage Industry

Sara Lee launches sustainable coffee plan

January 11, 2011

Sara Lee Corp., Utrecht, The Netherlands, announced a new five-year initiative to boost its sustainable commodity program for coffee. The company has pledged to more than triple its purchase of Utz Certified Good Inside Coffee in the next five years and purchase at least 350 million kilos across all its markets and product segments. In the past five years, Sara Lee has become the world’s largest buyer of the certified coffee due to purchases of more than 110 million kilos of the commodity, the company said.

The company estimated its sustainability investments can deliver to coffee farmers, their associations and representatives up to $100 million more income than they would have earned by selling uncertified coffee beans in the open market.

"Sara Lee's long-term goal is to use only certified coffee and tea in all products worldwide, and this new aggressive five-year plan is a very important step in accelerating our progress," said Frank van Oers, chief executive officer of Sara Lee's international beverage and bakery businesses, in a statement. "By providing coffee growers visibility five years out and publicly committing to buy very large quantities of certified coffee we can contribute to improve sustainability in the mainstream coffee market worldwide."

By 2015, more than 20 percent of Sara Lee’s entire annual coffee volume will be certified sustainable, the company said. Sara Lee ranks third worldwide in coffee volume, it reported. Sara Lee's portfolio of coffee brands includes Douwe Egberts, Maison Du Café, Senseo, Marcilla and Merrild.

Sara Lee also announced that it is expanding the number of sustainable certification partners with which it works. Although the Utz Certified Foundation will remain Sara Lee's main partner for sustainable certification, the company will liaise occasionally with other programs, such as organic certification and the Rainforest Alliance.