The unique Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program was launched in 2003 in collaboration with the NGO The Rainforest Alliance. It aims to protect the future of the highest quality coffees and secure the livelihoods of the farmers that grow them.
The long-standing relationship between Nespresso and the Rainforest Alliance builds on the expertise and years of experience of each organisation. Together, we work with farmers to produce the highest quality coffee sustainably.
The AAA Program shares many of the same goals and principles as other responsible sourcing programs. However, in addition to sustainability criteria, the AAA Program adds a quality and productivity dimension to sustainability.
Nespresso provides farmers support, training and technical assistance to improve their performance in each of the three A’s of the program:
To guarantee that farmers are paid a fair price, the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program involves paying premiums for both quality and sustainability. The premium is around 30% to 40% above the standard market price for coffee and 10% to 15% above coffees of similar quality.
But the program is about much more than paying a premium. It is about building partnerships and providing long-term support, which is delivered in two ways. First, through the training and technical assistance provided by Nespresso and our partners as part of our Tool for the Assessment of Sustainable Quality (TASQ™).
Second, we make direct investments in a wide range of projects, including:
In Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Nespresso has been working with the International Finance Corporation (IFC, a member of the World Bank Group) and ECOM, a coffee supplier to train coffee farmers in sustainability and productivity best practices. The IFC measured the impact of the project between 2007 and 2010. Based on surveys with coffee farmers and suppliers in two clusters in Mexico and Guatemala, they found a positive result: the study showed that improvements in farm productivity and sustainability were accompanied by higher farm incomes. The IFC estimated that, on average, net income for AAA farms was 27% higher than for farms not part of the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program.
To find out more about this study and the Nespresso AAA projects, see the Ecolaboration™ Case Studies.
At the end of 2012, we were already sourcing 68% of our coffee from over 52,000 farmers who are part of the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program. By 2013, we aim to source 80% of our coffee from the program, including Rainforest Alliance certification. This will involve working with about 80,000 farmers in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, India and two new countries – Kenya and Ethiopia.
Sometimes development projects forget the market demand side but by working with Nespresso, farmers are more willing to invest in sustainability and quality. They see that there is a market for their product and that Nespresso is committed to buying and paying a premium price for their coffee.
Through this partnership we are able to bring technical assistance and services to farmers that could not afford it. These services are based on what farmers need in the long-term to improve farmer income and sustainability.
The results are very positive. We see improvement in farmer income, farm performance and sustainability. We have seen evidence that farms that do well in sustainability also do well in increasing productivity. We also have learned that productivity is the single most important indicator for increasing the bottom line. To our surprise we also found that sustainability in most cases does not provide an additional cost to farmers. In case it does, the cost is offset by increased productivity.
Rick van der Kamp, Operations Officer
International Finance Corporation