Product, Service & Design Innovation
Chick-fil-A, THRIVE Partnership Supporting Economic Sustainability for Coffee Farmers

Chick–fil–A has announced it is partnering with THRIVE Farmers™ Coffee to offer the QSR industry’s first–ever socially beneficial, specialty–grade coffee. Per THRIVE’s unique revenue-sharing model, the sale of each cup of coffee directly supports its network of Central American family coffee farmers, allowing them to earn up to 10 times more than farmers earn in traditional or even fair trade revenue models. THRIVE created a blend specifically for the chain, which is now available in restaurants nationwide.

Michael Jones, founder and CEO of THRIVE Farmers said, “Our partnership with Chick–fil–A is rooted in a shared commitment to providing quality coffee while impacting farmers and their communities. By partnering with Chick–fil–A’s 1,800–plus restaurants, we have together an unprecedented opportunity to expand the impact of our farmer–direct platform and allow Chick–fil–A’s customers to know the positive impact they are having on the farmers who grow their coffee.”

Chick-fil-A says THRIVE’s coffee qualifies as specialty grade per the standards of the Specialty Coffee Association of America, of which only the top 10 percent of coffees consumed worldwide meet this quality designation. The chain says the exclusive blend was designed to specifically complement its breakfast menu, while also standing alone as a premium cup of coffee throughout the day.

“We reflected on feedback from our customers who expressed that they wanted a better cup of coffee, and we found a partner who brought the added expertise we needed. The true magic of this relationship is that not only does the coffee taste great, we also found a partner who shares our belief that business can be bigger than the bottom line,” said David Farmer, VP of product strategy and development for Chick–fil–A. “Now we are able to serve our customers an amazing cup of coffee that also will improve the lives of the farmers who grow it.”

THRIVE Farmers’ farmer–direct platform includes a unique revenue-sharing model that stabilizes the price paid to farmers year over year. THRIVE signs contracts with the farmers and farmer groups that supply Chick–fil–A coffee, and payment for the sale of their coffee is not tied to the volatile commodity markets - farmers maintain an economic interest in their coffee from the time it leaves the farm until Chick–fil–A purchases it from THRIVE. By eliminating all non–essential layers in the supply chain, this model creates economic sustainability for farmers because they can earn up to 10 times more than through traditional models, which allows them to reinvest in their communities and crops.

Speaking of progressive coffee models, Fair Trade USA announced in April that it has certified one billion pounds of Fair Trade coffee since its founding in 1998. The organization says this milestone was made possible by the sustainable sourcing practices of nearly 500 coffee companies, which helped Fair Trade coffee farmers and farm workers earn almost $124 million in Community Development Premiums to date, with $30.8 million in 2013 alone. But Fair Trade doesn’t just improve the lives of coffee farmers by paying them better – in October, the nonprofit teamed up with Kiva to help farmers in a coffee cooperative in Mexico access their own financing in order to improve crop quality and invest in the future of their families and communities.

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