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Starbucks Expands Ethical Sourcing Efforts With New Global Agronomy Center

In an effort to support long-term crop stability and help coffee-farming communities mitigate the effects of climate change, Starbucks this week announced the expansion of its $70 million comprehensive ethical sourcing program with a new farming research and development center in Costa Rica.

In an effort to support long-term crop stability and help coffee-farming communities mitigate the effects of climate change, Starbucks this week announced the expansion of its $70 million comprehensive ethical sourcing program with a new farming research and development center in Costa Rica. These programs are part of Starbucks’ ongoing commitment to ethically sourcing 100 percent of its coffee by 2015.

Starbucks will adapt an active 240-hectare farm on the slopes of the Poás Volcano into a global agronomy center. The R&D center will enable the company to expand its Coffee and Farming Equity (C.A.F.E.) practices, the ethical sourcing model developed in partnership with Conservation International that ensures coffee quality while promoting social, environmental and economic standards.

In addition to supporting resiliency for farmers around the world, the agronomy center will also influence the development of coffee varietals based on the insight offered through soil management processes, which could offer significant advantage in the development of future blends.

“This investment, and the cumulative impact it will have when combined with programs we have put into place over the last forty years, will support the resiliency of coffee farmers and their families as well as the one million people that represent our collective coffee supply chain,” said Howard Schultz, Starbucks president and CEO. “It also opens up an opportunity for Starbucks to innovate with proprietary coffee varietals that can support the development of future blends.”

In total, Starbucks has invested more than $70 million in collaborative farmer programs and activities over the past 40 years, which include C.A.F.E. practices, farmer support centers, farmer loans and forest carbon projects.

“The convergence of climate change and ecosystem deterioration creates stress on the ability of farmers to produce crops. The work of Starbucks over the last several years to address many of these issues facing coffee producers - including the environmental, economic and social development of coffee production - is very impressive,” said Peter Seligmann, chairman and CEO of Conservation International. “The opportunity this continued investment brings will ensure the most innovative resources are brought to bear for sustainability and resilience across all farming communities.”

In 2008 Starbucks and Conservation International began conducting impact assessments of C.A.F.E. practices on coffee farmers and communities, and in 2012 aggregated the year-over-year performance impact. On average farmers employing C.A.F.E. practices saw 98 percent of farms maintaining or improving soil fertility and 100 percent of school-age children on smallholder farms were able to attend school. Of the 545 million pounds of coffee purchased by Starbucks in fiscal year 2012, across 29 countries, 93 percent of it was ethically sourced.

Earlier this month, Starbucks was named one of Ethisphere's Most Ethical Companies for the seventh year in a row.

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