US-based Westrock Coffee works in 21 countries and distributes its coffee throughout the US, along with retail partners like Walmart and King Super. The business is active in the communities where they source their coffee, but last week issued a press release to announce their goal to have 100% responsible sourcing. Currently, 61% of Westrock’s coffee and tea is responsibly sourced across 35 farming origins.
I wondered how that term was defined by the company, and fortunately, they have a policy that explains what that means. I’ve attached it below, or you can click the link in the press release.
Actually, the policy is pretty clear and concise, running to just four pages, but I did have a question over who this policy was aimed at. I’m guessing at a cooperative level, which means that this group must be responsible for communicating and overseeing the policy down to the farmers as well. The policy requires that ILO rules on forced / indentured labour, and anti-bribery legislation are adhered to.
As an observation, it would be useful if Westrock talked a little more about how they saw the policy being implemented, although they do describe how they get involved with education on Good Agricultural Practice (GAP). I think the mechanics of ‘how’ is what they are planning when they describe building a “global supplier assurance framework in partnership with the Committee on Sustainable Assessment (COSA) and the British Standards Institution (BSI)”.
I’m interested to see how those organisations approach the assurance element, which is perhaps the most difficult and expensive part of the problem.
The company has a track record of their community work, and it’s great that they share that with us. In fact, when looking for an open to license photo to use with the story, I found one from USAID, dated 2014, in which Westrock had been involved in pre-financing the harvest as part of a deal negotiated with USAID who were helping improve production.
They have a lovely video on YouTube which is wonderfully filmed in Rwanda.
The Press Release Follows:
LITTLE ROCK, Ark., September 21, 2021 — Westrock Coffee Company, LLC (Westrock Coffee) announced today their pledge to responsibly source 100% of the company’s coffee and tea by 2025. This supports their foundational sustainability strategy and commitment to purchase and process all products in a manner that is fair to the people who grow and handle it, their employees, peers, and environments.
“We are excited to continue the sustainability journey that started 12 years ago with a small exporting business in Rwanda. While our hands-on approach to working with our farmer partners and customers remains the same, we are humbled by the opportunity to expand this across 173 million pounds of coffee and tea globally,” said Matt Smith, Westrock Coffee’s Executive Vice President of Global Supply Chain, Quality, and Sustainability.
Currently, 61% of Westrock’s coffee and tea is responsibly sourced across 35 farming origins. Westrock Coffee will close the gap by building a global supplier assurance framework in partnership with the Committee on Sustainable Assessment (COSA) and the British Standards Institution (BSI). The program will audit its entire supplier network for compliance with Westrock Coffee’s Responsible Sourcing Policy. Additionally, Westrock Coffee will deploy more personnel in key supply chains to quantify the social, environmental, and entrepreneurial impact of coffee and tea at origin.
“Westrock Coffee exemplifies how business, with a strong commitment and the right tools, can be a significant agent of positive change,” says COSA President Daniele Giovannucci. “COSA is pleased to expand our partnership and help push the needle on direct trade models, effective sustainability investment, and farmer income – to name a few. These efforts to drive transparency in the pursuit of more ethical and more sustainable supply chains not only provide new customer value, but also advance the coffee industry as a whole.”
Beyond their responsible sourcing commitments, Westrock Coffee has proprietary platforms in eight origins supporting economically and environmentally sustainable supply chains for 106,865 farmers. These programs are the cornerstone of the company’s sustainability strategy and give customers ethical assurance on their products. “We are proud of the technical services provided to these farmers. The resulting 146% farm production growth was a direct byproduct of our on-the-ground understanding of what farmers and our supply chains needed to thrive,” Smith continued. “Scaling our services and transparent supply chains allows us to address the current and future needs of our partnering farmers in a way that outsourcing our sustainability efforts cannot.”
Responsible sourcing is where Westrock Coffee started a decade ago by establishing traceable and sustainable supply chains in East Africa. With Westrock Coffee’s platform, Farmer Direct Verified®, customers have unparalleled insight into the source of their products through 50 distinct data points, creating end-to-end transparency through a vertically integrated business model. Communicating supply chain realities allows Westrock Coffee’s customers to make informed decisions for their brands and leads to reinvestment in sustainable farms.
Scott Ford, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Westrock Coffee, said: “Sustainability is more than an initiative – it is a symbiotic relationship that links company, cultivator, and consumer. It balances need with opportunity, efficiency with excellence, and success with responsibility. Our industry can only reach its full potential if we facilitate absolute transparency and pursue sustainability from farmer to customer. This work begins with responsible sourcing.”
Prior to Westrock Coffee’s acquisition of S&D Coffee and Tea, 90% of the company’s green coffee purchases were Farmer Direct Verified® or certified. In the past year, the combined team has converted over 43 items to meet responsible sourcing standards, demonstrating their commitment to responsible business practices.
To learn more about Westrock Coffee’s responsible sourcing commitment, visit westrockcoffee.com or the company’s Sustainable Coffee Challenge page. To read their Responsible Sourcing Policy, click here.
About Westrock Coffee Company Westrock Coffee Company, LLC is the leading integrated coffee, tea, and extract service provider in the US, providing coffee sourcing and financing, supply chain management, roasting, packaging, and distribution services to retailers, restaurants, convenience stores, commercial accounts, and hospitality customers around the world. With offices in 10 countries, the company sources coffee and tea from 35 origin countries and provides service under both the Westrock Coffee and S&D Coffee & Tea brands.
For all inquiries, contact:
David Martin David.firstname.lastname@example.org