Emeryville, Calif.-based Peet’s Coffee today launched a marketing initiative called People & Planet, designed to highlight some of the coffee roasting company’s long-running direct trade relationships and promote the resultant coffee offerings.
The company has organized the campaign around three pillars, or three different ways of characterizing sustainable relationships with coffee producers: direct trade, farmer assistance, and certifications.
Indeed, the most interesting thing about the campaign is the fact that a company with the size, history, buying power and reputation of Peet’s is attempting to define and contextualize phrases such as direct trade, farmer assistance and certifications. Throughout years of industry-wide greenwashing and confusion among consumers, these terms are problematic no matter how they are presented. Here’s the Peet’s People & Planet take:
- Direct Trade—Personal relationships with farmers where Peet’s negotiates prices directly and collaborates with these suppliers on projects that support the people, communities, and natural environment surrounding their farms.
- Farmer Assistance—Training for coffee farmers in agronomy and business skills which aims to help them improve product quality, obtain higher crop yields, and secure premium prices.
- Certification—Coffees that are evaluated against social, environmental, and economic standards during production and processing. Peet’s focuses on sourcing coffees that carry USDA Organic, Fair Trade™, and Rainforest Alliance™ certifications.
For example, the company is calling its current Uzuri African Blend “a Farmer Assistance dark roast from East Africa.” In this case, that farmer assistance refers to the company’s relationship with the nonprofit organization Technoserve that dates back to 2009 when Peet’s provided smallholder farmers throughout several East African countries assistance toward quality improvements, while providing market access through its own involvement.
Another example is Peet’s “Direct Trade dark roast” Guatemala San Sebastián, a portion of the proceeds from which go to a local education system in the Antigua Valley, as well as a clinic for basic medical care for the community surrounding the Finca San Sebastián estate. As Peet’s Roastmaster Emeritus Jim Reynolds contends in a promotional video for the campaign, the three-generation partnership between Peet’s and the farming community has shown tangible, sustainable benefits in the development of schools and other community facilities.
“In establishing People & Planet, we are not only able to showcase and expand the reach of some of our favorite coffees, but we are also better positioned to share the stories of our long-standing social responsibility efforts,” Doug Welsh, VP of Coffee and Roastmaster of Peet’s Coffee, said in announcement of the outreach effort. “The coffees included as part of the initiative underscore important components of the journey we are on to ensure, in equal measure, that we are supporting our farmers and the environment while also providing remarkable quality coffees.”