Coffee, tea and cocoa are produced in countries with tropical or subtropical climate where the export of these crops is a vital income source for many people in rural areas. At the same time, the production has an impact on the surrounding environment as well as the wellbeing of people working in cultivation. A similarity between the coffee, tea and coca plants are their common sensitivity for weather changes which makes them all highly threatened by the ongoing climate change. To take environmental and social responsibility when procuring coffee, tea and cocoa can contribute to a more sustainable cultivation and production of these products.
Swedish coffee consumption is among the highest in the world. According to the Swedish Board of Agriculture swedes consume 9 kilos of coffee per person every year. The largest coffee-producing countries are Brazil, Vietnam and Colombia followed by Indonesia and Honduras.* Conventional cultivation of coffee uses synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Toxic residues from their use can accumulate in the soil and water and affect the surrounding environment and people.
Deforestation makes room for new plantations, which negatively affects biodiversity and increases carbon dioxide emissions. The loss of forest also leaves soils unprotected from rain which can lead to erosion.
Coffee production often occurs in small scale in countries with widespread poverty and many millions of small-scale growers are estimated to rely on coffee for their livelihood. ** Small-scale coffee growers often live under uncertain economic circumstances, partly due to fluctuations in the world market price for coffee. Social and economic dimensions of sustainability could therefore be particularly important in the procurement of these products.
The most important exporting countries of tea are Kenya and Sri Lanka and most major tea exporters are countries with widespread poverty in Africa and Asia. Worldwide, 5.5 million tonnes of tea per year is consumed, in Sweden approximately 0.3 kg per person and year. The tea plant is very sensitive to weather changes and tea production which generates income for millions of people in rural areas is currently threatened by ongoing climate change. *** Living and working conditions for workers and tea-plantations have in some cases been documented as inadequate by, among others, the ILO (International Labor Organization).
Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana produce about 70% of global cocoa consumption. Cocoa is the main source of income for between 40 and 50 million people worldwide and over 5 million small farmers grow cocoa. In Côte d'Ivoire, however, average cocoa-producing households earn only 37% of what is considered living income. **** In Sweden in 2016 about 2 kilograms of cocoa per person were consumed in the form of beverages, powder and sauce while consumption of chocolate amounted to 6.5 kilos per person. ***** International Cocoa Association (ICCO) reports that unstable world market prices, low incomes, and cocoa growers' social and labor conditions are major sustainability challenges for the sector.
*International Coffee Organization, 2017
**Enveritas Global Farmer Study, 2018
*** Jordbruksverket, 2018, FAO, 2018
**** Cocoa Barometer, 2018
***** Jordbruksverket, 2018 Delfi totalmarknadsskattning, 2016 SCB Befolkningsstatistik, 2016
Subject of procurement
Coffee, tea and cocoa-based products with environmental and social resposibility requirements