McDonald’s UK Puts Rainforest Alliance Certified Coffee on the Menu
Sustainably grown coffee takes a giant leap forward today with the announcement that McDonald's UK will be sourcing all of its coffee beans from farms certified by the New York-based global nonprofit Rainforest Alliance.
Starting Wednesday, January 10, all 1,200 McDonald's restaurants in the United Kingdom and Ireland will sell exclusively Kenco coffee, a Kraft Foods high-quality Arabica coffee containing 100 percent Rainforest Alliance Certified beans. Only farms that meet specific, independent and verifiable standards balancing all aspects of production, including protecting the environment, the rights and welfare of workers and the interest of coffee-growing communities are awarded Rainforest Alliance certification.
McDonald's is the first major retailer in the United Kingdom to source 100 percent of its coffee from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, and as it implements this decision this week, it becomes with one stroke the leading United Kingdom retailer of Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee. Prices will be locally competitive ranging from £1.09 ($1.43) for a regular coffee to £1.59 ($2.08) for a large cappuccino or latte.
At the same time, McDonald's also signaled its intention to extend this commitment to serving certified sustainable coffee in its restaurants throughout Europe during 2007.
The announcement means the beans used to brew more than 143,000 cups of coffee, cappuccino and latte sold every day in McDonald's restaurants in the United Kingdom and Ireland -- roasted from 1.8 million pounds of beans during 2007 -- will come from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms in Colombia, Brazil and Central America. This new and growing market for their crops will directly benefit thousands of farmers and farm workers while protecting the environment. The premium that McDonald's pays for its coffee is plowed back into sustainable farm management, including the protection of ecosystems and access to clean and safe living and working conditions, schools, healthcare, training, potable drinking water, decent wages, better markets for crops and other worker rights and benefits.
"Today's announcement will transform the market for sustainably grown coffee in the United Kingdom. It means we can offer our customers great tasting coffee that benefits coffee growers, their communities and the environment," said Steve Easterbrook, President and CEO of McDonald's UK. "Kenco and the Rainforest Alliance are ideal partners for McDonald's and today's news builds on our previous efforts to both improve supply chain transparency and reduce our impact on the environment."
"Along with the commitment of Kenco, McDonald's purchase of rich, flavorful coffee harvested from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms shows that sustainable coffee is not just a specialty product," said Tensie Whelan, Executive Director of the Rainforest Alliance. "It is an affordable, delicious way to support sustainability in tropical coffee lands."
Ben Clarke, Vice President and Area Director in the United Kingdom and Ireland for Kenco said, "The Rainforest Alliance is a natural fit with Kenco, reinforcing our passion for coffee quality while supporting real improvements in quality of life and the environment in coffee growing communities. We are delighted that McDonald's has made this important commitment to sustainable development."
McDonald's move is the latest example of a recent trend toward sustainable certified products breaking out of specialty niches and into mass markets, gaining popularity with large companies, mainstream outlets, and consumers.
Kraft, one of the world's largest coffee roasters, began buying Rainforest Alliance Certified beans in 2003 for use in its mainstream consumer coffee brands worldwide. It launched Kenco sustainable certified coffee in the United Kingdom in 2005, and subsequently introduced several other Rainforest Alliance Certified brands in Europe and North America, including its Yuban brand, now sold widely in supermarkets the United States. The company has continually increased its commitment to sustainability over the past several years, buying about five million pounds of coffee from certified farms in 2004, increasing to about 14 million pounds in 2005 and to about 29 million pounds in 2006.
In the past three years, the amount of coffee purchased from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms has, on average, doubled, from an estimated seven million pounds of coffee purchased in 2003 to an estimated 54.7 million pounds purchased in 2006. Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and other mainstream outlets in the United States now carry Rainforest Alliance Certified coffees.
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