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Monitoring the sustainability performance of the AAA Program

CRECE presents the benefits of the AAA Program.

Farmers in the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program have sharply improved their social, environmental and economic performance. This is according to CRECE, an independent consulting and research firm in Colombia, which has created a sustainability index to measure the impacts of the Nespresso program in coffee producing regions.

The social index includes indicators that reflect good working practices, quality of life and occupational safety and health. The environmental index includes good agricultural practices, soil and water conservation measures and adequate agrochemical handling. And the economic index incorporates market knowledge, land productivity, production costs, income and coffee farmers’ understanding of economic and business principles.

Delivering tangible benefits

CRECE surveyed more than 1’000 AAA farmers in Colombia to measure and track shared value creation from the AAA Program. The survey was conducted in collaboration with the non-profit organisation Technoserve, INCAE Business School and the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation.

CRECE applied its sustainability index to both farms participating in the AAA Program and a sample of non-AAA farms. The result: AAA farms topped non-AAA farms in every category. Of the AAA farms surveyed, including those that have obtained Rainforest Alliance certification, 22.6% had better social conditions, 52% better environmental conditions and 41% better economic conditions than non-AAA farms.


The data demonstrate the potential social, environmental and economic impacts that participation in the program can have for farmers and their families.


Carlos Ariel Garcia Romero
CRECE researcher

In fact, in recent years, the gap between non-AAA farms and AAA farms has widened in terms of sustainability outcomes. Between 2009 and 2011, index levels for non-AAA farms were generally flat or declining, while those for AAA farms increased.

“The concrete data coming from the field shows the significant impact that the collaboration between the Rainforest Alliance and Nespresso is having on the ground in coffee growing communities,” said Tensie Whelan, president of the Rainforest Alliance. “Over the ten years that we have worked with Nespresso on the AAA Program, we have observed significant progress in terms of economic, social and environmental conditions. The CRECE data introduces a concrete methodology to verify this progress.”

The AAA Program has enjoyed a positive impact not only on coffee farmers’ agricultural practices, but also on their quality of life. For example, they are more knowledgeable about health and safety, they run more profitable farms and they’re able to provide better housing and education for their families. In addition, more sustainable farming increases the ability to produce consistent quality far into the future. This is something that benefits farmers, consumers and Nespresso.

The AAA Program has positively impacted not only coffee
farmers’ agricultural practices, but also their quality of life.

AAA farmers said they felt more loyal to Nespresso than to other coffee companies. They also considered the AAA Program highly beneficial for both themselves and their region. In addition, since joining the AAA Program and implementing sustainable practices, AAA farmers have sold a higher volume of coffee to Nespresso. This is because more of their coffee now meets the AAA Program’s strict quality and sustainability standards.

“We were impressed to observe such significant variances in the economic, social and environmental performance between AAA and non-AAA farms across the region,” said Carlos Ariel Garcia Romero, principal researcher for CRECE. “Both the quantitative data we gathered and the qualitative feedback that we received through our close interactions with the farmers demonstrate the potential social, environmental and economic impacts that participation in the program can have for farmers and their families.”

Nespresso Sustainability