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German Coffee Association Launches Grievance Tool for Coffee Supply Chains


The German Coffee Association (Deutcher Kaffeeverband) is behind a new platform designed to collect and investigate anonymously submitted grievances related to coffee supply chains, such as labor issues or environmental abuses.

The platform launch comes as more German coffee companies will be affected by German corporate sustainability laws in 2024.

The German Coffee Association, a nonprofit trade organization, partnered with the independent German sustainability auditing firm Global Risk Assessment Services (GRAS) to launch Ear4U, the web-, app- or phone-based grievance collection mechanism.

Ear4U is to allow anonymous users to report issues such as occupational safety, environmental pollution or forced labor in coffee supply chains, according to the organization.

GRAS intends to investigate relevant reports, collecting additional information while contacting affected companies. Users reporting grievances are being promised anonymity throughout the process.

“We will contact you within ten working days after submitting your report about how long the examination is likely to take,” the Ear4U website states. “The first check is carried out by the independent company GRAS. Your concern will then be investigated by a trusted person from the company whose supply chain the report relates to. The company decides whether and what action to take to respond appropriately to your report.”

coffee labor

GRAS has previously worked in coffee supply chain sustainability on behalf of past clients such as Sucafina and 4C. The group’s coffee-related work has included risk assessments related to deforestation in coffee lands, including deforestation mapping tools.

The German Coffee Association said the platform is designed to make the coffee value chain “more sustainable” while facilitating compliance with due diligence obligations under the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz), which took effect Jan. 1, 2023.

The law currently affects German companies employing 3,000 people or more. Beginning Jan. 1, 2024, the threshold drops to companies employing 1,000 people or more.

At least six German coffee companies — including large players such as Tchibo, Melitta and Westhoff — have joined the German Coffee Association in promoting the new Ear4U platform.

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