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7-Eleven Takes a Big Gulp Toward Sustainability with RFA-Approved Matagalpa

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The international convenience store chain 7-Eleven — which boasts more than 8,000 franchise locations in the U.S. alone — is for the first time introducing a sustainably certified coffee.

The company announced this week the widespread release of Rainforest Alliance-certified coffee grown by farmers in the Matagalpa region of Nicaragua.

This may be just a droplet in coffee’s deep, fluid pool of sustainability problems, yet considering the fact that 7-Eleven is by its own calculations the fourth largest coffee retailer in the U.S., the initiative is nonetheless a big gulp in the right direction.

The RFA-certified coffee comes after 7-Eleven’s July announcement that it was working with Conservation International to set measurable corporate social responsibility goals, and that it had joined CI’s Business and Sustainability Council, a forum for corporate leaders to promote environmental sustainability actions and reduce environmental impact.

“Nearly every major coffee-producing region of the world is under stress as changing weather patterns affect coffee production,” 7-Eleven senior vice president of fresh food and proprietary beverage merchandising Nancy Smith said in an announcement of the RFA-approved coffee. “By working with the Rainforest Alliance, we can help foster sustainable farming practices that protect natural resources.”

7-Eleven’s coffee efforts here seem squarely focused on environmental sustainability, as opposed to social or economic sustainability at origin. There’s even a somewhat paradoxical quote from Smith in the company’s announcement boasting of a “premium cup of coffee without the premium price,” although the statement seems clearly directed toward consumers.

Said Alex Morgan, Rainforest Alliance Director of Markets Transformation, “The Rainforest Alliance is proud to be working with 7-Eleven, a company that understands the value of sustainably sourced coffee and shares our belief that everyday actions add up to meaningful impact.”

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