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Major coffee firms sign up to ‘historic’ ICO sustainability declaration

Nestlé, Starbucks, Lavazza, illycaffè, and Jacobs Douwe Egberts among signatories to International Coffee Organization’s (ICO) declaration on the economic sustainability of coffee

Coffee production in Ethiopia, where many farmers have been hard-hit by a combination of global heating and low coffee market prices

Some of the world’s largest coffee roasters, coffee shops and retailers have signed up to an ‘historic’ international pledge to address growing the unsustainability of global coffee production.

Known as the ‘London Declaration’, firms including illycaffè, Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE), Lavazza, Mercon, Nestlé, Neumann Kaffee Gruppe, Olam, Starbucks, Sucafina, Tchibo and Volcafe have committed to action across four major themes: promoting competitive and sustainable production; fostering responsible and equitable growth; promoting responsible consumption; and promoting public-private dialogue regarding policy development.

The declaration comes after the ICO issued Resolution 465 on 20 September 2019, which states current coffee market prices do not allow coffee growers in most producing nations to cover production costs. Acknowledging this issue, the resolution commits to seven actions, including the promotion dialogue among all coffee stakeholders in the coffee value chain and the launch of a global communication programme aimed at consumers, producers and the wider coffee industry.

In a press statement, the ICO said the declaration of intent made by international coffee firms was the ‘first time major that major private sector actors across the coffee value chain have come together to agree to jointly implement solutions in a spirit of shared responsibility.’

There has been growing industry alarm as global coffee prices have slumped to their lowest level in a decade, pushing many coffee producers to the brink. While many large businesses have taken individual action to improve farmer profitability and shore up their supply chains, the London Declaration marks a significant collective acknowledgement of the coffee price crisis among major global firms.

The London Declaration is also supported by the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Producers (CLAC), Fairtrade International, Global Coffee Platform, Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung, IDH the Sustainable Trade Initiative, National Coffee Association of USA, Oikocredit, Rainforest Alliance, Rusteacoffee, Specialty Coffee Association and the Sustainable Coffee Challenge.

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