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Independent research, analysis and consulting

Clients / Selected Engagements

Starbucks Coffee Company

Global CSR Supply-Chain Program
Over the past several years, an oversupply of low-grade coffee severely suppressed world market prices, making it difficult for farmers of even the highest quality to cover their cost of production. Starbucks Coffee Company recognized that the success of farmers was not only a social responsibility of the corporation but also a critical component of its own future growth. So the company devised an integrated approach to relations with its supply chain, designed to ensure the long-term production of quality coffee while building mutually beneficial relationships with the farmers and communities from which it purchased. Among other aspects, the program features premium prices for quality grades, access to affordable farm credit, investment in community development projects, technical field support, the purchase of Fair Trade and other certified coffees, and an industry-leading incentive purchasing program known as C.A.F.E. Practices.

Starbucks asked Jonathan Levine to document the impact of the program on a cross-section of its supply chain, totaling 11 suppliers in nine countries across Latin America, Africa and Asia. In addition to objective field assessment of the program's effectiveness, Jon also provided analysis from the perspective of its corporate social responsibility mission. The research served multiple purposes: It evaluated program impact through credible third-party reporting, highlighting progress with each of the program components at the farm level as well as the overall supply chain. It also identified CSR issues still needing attention to mitigate possible future risks for both the company and its suppliers. Finally, the reporting provided a humanizing means of communicating the company's efforts with farmers through various formats to multiple stakeholders, including:

• a series of detailed supplier reports (sample) to brief management, shareholders, the press, NGOs and advocacy groups

• a second series of shorter articles and photos, newsletter articles, short video documentaries, hand-outs at coffee tastings and other tools to educate employees and consumers (videos produced by Close-Up Productions, an independent production house)

• a series of fact sheets summarizing the social, economic and environmental status of each supplier for internal use

• presentations for community meetings, employee gatherings and industry conferences

• case studies and photos for the CSR annual report and other company documents

• detailed field reports on critical issues for CSR management



Solar drying beds in Peru

Natural coffee in Ethiopia

Farm family in Colombia
Top: Solar drying beds in Peru
Middle: Natural coffee in Ethiopia
Bottom: Farm family in Colombia

Photos by Jonathan Levine
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