Mondelez takes ‘bold step’ with third-party evaluation of sustainable coffee programme

Mondelez International has unveiled 'a new way of approaching sustainability in the coffee industry' with the development of a more stringent and transparent supply chain evaluation framework to measure the impact of its global sustainability programme.

The multinational snacking powerhouse – the world’s second largest coffee company – has brought in the help of an independent third-party organisation to tangibly measure how the $200m Coffee Made Happy scheme is achieving its objectives to improve farmers’ businesses and livelihoods; increase farm yields and engage young people and women in coffee farming so as to empower one million coffee entrepreneurs by 2020.

Rather than simply measuring the implementation of the sustainability programme – which so far involves seven projects in five countries – this new method of evaluation is outcome-based; with yearly reporting based on farmers’ net income and the relative ‘attractiveness’ of coffee farming, along with regular in-depth impact assessments delivered by the external Committee On Sustainability Assessment (COSA).

A separate advisory board – which includes members from the Rainforest Alliance, WWF and 4C Association – has also been created to guide this new reporting process and potentially scale-up the $200m investment to other coffee-producing countries around the world.

Mondelēz International’s global sustainability manager Malcolm Hett told edie: “Coffee Made Happy is a completely new way of approaching sustainability in the coffee industry. This is a much more aggressive approach in terms of investment and scale – it’s a scale that we think will change the way the industry works over the long-term because it’s needed.

“Taking this new approach – rather than basing our measurements purely on percentages and numbers – is going to be much more transformative in terms of creating long-lasting effects of sustainable coffee farming.”

Honest reporting

For Mondelēz – which operates the Kenco coffee brand and currently buys around 6% of the world’s coffee – this new framework will collect data from across the various Coffee Made Happy projects to build the world’s largest database of coffee farm metrics. An evaluation of this data will provide transparency to individual Coffee Made Happy projects including those in Honduras, Indonesia, Peru and – most recently – Etheopia.

“It’s a bold step,” admitted Hett. “But it will be very enlightening for all concerned. We are open to third-party scrutiny of our sustainability programme – that’s where COSA comes in. They will make sure we collect the data correctly and that it the impact of Coffee Made Happy is reported honestly and not spun according to what we want to say. I think this really underlines our approach to focus on outcomes rather than standards.”

For the Coffee Made Happy programme to successfully develop one million ‘coffee entrepreneurs’ by 2020, Hett admitted that collaboration with other companies, associations, organisations and public-private partnerships will be needed to make significant changes. “It’s crucial to create the right networks to allow this change to happen – that’s another big advantage of our advisory board full of industry experts,” he said.

Hett concluded with a progress update on Mondelēz’s commitment to sustainably sourcing 100% of the coffee for its West European markets by 2015 – “the firm is at 89% this year and will get to 100% next year”. The firm, which also owns the Cadbury and Oreo brands, recently released its first Well-being Progress Report, which shows progress in nine of 10 key sustainability targets.

Video: Mondelēz’s Coffee Made Happy programme

Luke Nicholls

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