Sustainability

1 May 2019

Guideline on coffee

Coffee is not just the favourite drink of Germans, and demand for coffee is increasing around the world. And yet many coffee farmers can barely make a living from their work – and growing coffee has a huge environmental impact. For these reasons, the REWE Group is striving to make its product range more sustainable.

Background

Even though there is a growing demand for coffee, the raw commodity itself is at a critical juncture. Prices are fluctuating dramatically at the coffee exchanges, climate change is leading to lost harvests and there is very little to entice the next generation into farming. In many South American, Asian and African countries, small-scale farmers often do not earn enough to make a living. This means that many children often have to help their parents rather than going to school. Monoculture farming is eroding the soil. Water consumption and pesticide use are increasing, with consequences for people and biodiversity. Climate change further compounds the effect. Forests are cleared to make way for cultivated land. The REWE Group is faced with the challenge of meeting consumer demand for coffee while at the same time improving the lives of local people and protecting the natural environment.

Our goals

To address this challenge, the REWE Group has defined three objectives, one of which has been achieved already. It had successfully converted all REWE and Penny private-label coffee products to certified coffee exclusively by 2020. In addition, the company wants to engage in long-term collaboration with local cooperatives in order to safeguard the income of growers and tackle climate change. Moreover, it intends to provide customers with more transparent information about the provenance of its coffee products.

Our measures

The REWE Group is formulating clear requirements for suppliers with the goal of improving conditions for people and the environment throughout its supply chain. These requirements are based on respect for human rights, compliance with labour and social standards and protecting the environment. For example, all suppliers for REWE Group brands are required to supply coffee that meets Rainforest Alliance/UTZ, Fairtrade or organic certification criteria. In addition to respecting human rights in the production process, Fairtrade also sets minimum prices that ensure that farmers receive a worthwhile income and are able to plan with confidence for the next growing season. In addition, the REWE Group has developed local partnerships, such as the Valle de Incahuasi coffee cooperative in Peru, where 475 farmers grow coffee for REWE’s Feine Welt brand. The plants are grown organically in a controlled manner so as to not overtax the fragile ecosystem of the Andes. The cooperative has also been conducting training courses for farmers since 2018, covering issues such as organic methods for preventing diseases in the coffee crop.