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Working with Farmers

"Keurig Green Mountain brings to its supply chain outreach work a willingness to go and learn where and how farmers in their supply chains face challenges like food insecurity. The company’s dedicated support for diverse, innovative community projects — backed by a rigorous learning agenda — offers an inspiring example of how companies can be effective partners for change." 
 — Don Seville, Co-Director, Sustainable Food Lab

We believe that the best beverages — whether coffee, cocoa, cider, or tea — come from farmers who can earn a decent living and contribute to resilient, healthy communities. As we chart our course for the long term, our Company’s ability to continue to expand and innovate our beverage offerings will depend on maintaining reliable supplies of top-quality, sustainably sourced products. That is why we aim to build long-term relationships with agricultural communities and use the power of our business to improve farmers’ quality of life while further strengthening our supply chain.

The agricultural communities within our supply chains face a daunting set of interconnected challenges, including limited access to food, clean water, health care, education, and alternative economic opportunities. Climate change is accelerating many of these threats to livelihoods, further diminishing the quality of life in farm communities and driving even more young people off the farm toward urban centers.

The new sustainability assessments we will be conducting as part of our expanded responsible sourcing program are one way we can identify risks and weaknesses within our agricultural supply chain and build long-term relationships based on continuous improvement. Similar to our work within our manufacturing supply chains, agricultural suppliers will be evaluated based on risk, and then we will undertake an appropriate level of assessment — ranging from self-assessments to comprehensive third-party audits — to start a dialogue and set the direction to move forward. Our initial focus will be on the highest-risk suppliers, which we will determine by evaluating each supplier across several dimensions, from their importance to our business and any inherent risks in their industry to their specific environmental impacts and their treatment of workers. We will then expand our assessments to cover all agricultural suppliers of key commodities, including coffee, cocoa, sugar, dairy products, and fruit. 

Our supply chain grantmaking to partner organizations — including NGOs, universities, research institutions, and cooperatives in agricultural communities — has long been directed at supporting and improving farm families’ quality of life. Addressing their holistic needs is a vital step in creating resilient agricultural communities and a new generation of coffee farmers who are as committed to growing great coffee as the current generation.

Our new 2020 target pledges to engage 1 million people in our manufacturing and agriculture supply chains to significantly improve their livelihoods. “Livelihoods” encompasses people, their capabilities, and their means of living, including food, income, and tangible and intangible assets1. To achieve this livelihoods target, we will focus on building the capacity of farming families and the organizations that support them to achieve economic viability and food security, promoting health and nutrition, access to potable water, and gender equity. We have identified metrics to measure the impact of each outreach project and will be reporting our progress against these measurements in future reports.

As we work toward our 2020 targets, we will place additional emphasis on addressing the nexus of water, energy, and food — three issues that are closely connected, with each one critical to building a resilient supply chain. In addition, we will continue to work with our suppliers to address the most pressing livelihood challenges they face. Water stewardship is an important part of our work and will provide a new lens and focus through which to view past, current, and future projects. 

Sourcing products that meet high standards of certification, such as Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance, is one way we can help address some of the fundamental challenges facing agricultural communities. These programs encourage socially and environmentally sustainable agricultural practices and reward coffee producers with access to markets and, in the case of Fair Trade, a price premium for their hard work. (Learn more about our work with certified products in the Building Stronger Communities Through Agricultural Standards section.

Supply Chain Funded Projects Fiscal 2013

In fiscal 2013, we provided over $10.6 million in grant funding to 56 projects in 16 countries; these projects touched the lives of more than 837,000 people. We focus our funding on impacts at the household level, working directly with on-the-ground partners to identify the greatest needs of individuals and families in these communities. Focus areas include food security, water stewardship, community well-being, and care for agricultural ecosystems

Keurig Green Mountain Supply Chain Number of Individuals map

1Chambers, R. and G. Conway (1992) Sustainable rural livelihoods: practical concepts for the 21st Century. Discussion Paper. 220.  Institute for Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex: Brighton.