McDonald’s is investing more than $6.5 million over four-and-a-half years in a technical assistance program to help approximately 13,000 coffee farmers in Central America produce and process more sustainably. The move reflects the company’s commitment to shareholders beginning this month to use only 100 precent Rainforest Alliance-certified coffees for its espresso drinks in the United States and Canada.
“We are confident that investing in both certification and sustainable agriculture training addresses the immediate need to assist farmers today, expands capacity for greater sustainable coffee production in the future and helps assure our customers we will continue to provide the taste profile they have grown to love and expect from McDonald’s,” Susan Forsell, McDonald’s vice president of sustainability, said in a prepared statement.
McDonald’s McCafe line of espresso drinks, which has doubled the company’s coffee sales growth in the past five years, has typically incorporated coffees from Colombia, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Brazil and Sumatra. In Canada, 100 percent of coffee used in McDonald’s espresso drinks is certified by some third party sustainability certifying agency, while only a portion of McDonald’s coffees sold in the United States are certified by groups including Rainforest Alliance, UTZ Certified and Fair Trade USA.
For its newest initiative, McDonald’s is working with TechnoServe, a nonprofit organization that develops business solutions to poverty, and the Sustainable Commodity Assistance Network (SCAN), a global collaboration providing sustainability technical assistance. With those groups, McDonald’s has been supporting a technical assistance program for coffee farms in Guatemala since 2011.
“The program empowers farmers to implement practices that deliver higher yields that contribute to individual livelihoods and the local economy, while simultaneously protecting the environment for future generations,” TechnoServe Senior Vice President David Browning said in the statement. “Higher yields translate into higher incomes that will help farmers to break the cycle of poverty and invest in better health care and education for their children.”