Environmental certification doesn’t stop at farm level 

  • Demand for organic products is rising – the global organic market was worth $133 billion in 2021 alone
  • Meanwhile, the demand for environmentally friendly cleaning products is also growing
  • Coffee brands could tap into these trends by offering organic coffee from farm to cup – including brewing

ORGANIC is one of the most recognisable labels on the shelves, and demand for organic coffee is growing. Consumers aware of chemicals and fertilisers that go into agriculture are seeking ways to be better consumers and are demanding more organically produced coffee. 

The rest of the coffee supply chain is rarely examined in terms of organic practices though – think roaster, machinery, and even cleaning products. Can coffee really be labelled organic, if processes at each step of its supply chain are not?

Organic coffee represents a competitive segment in the market that is interesting for brands.  In 2021, the global organic market was worth $133 billion. In 2020–21, the organic-certified coffee growing area achieved the highest one-year growth, with a 24.6% increase

But what about after the coffee leaves the farm? Unlike bananas for example, coffee is a value-added product.  This means other supply chain components need to be considered for consumers to claim they are buyers of truly organic coffee products. One of these is brewing equipment’s cleaning products, which are often overlooked. 

The demand for cleaning products has risen in recent years as consumer awareness for sanitation and hygiene has grown, notably triggered by the pandemic. This demand, coupled with that for environmentally friendly products, has led to a surge in demand for organic and green cleaning products. 

Natural ingredients, no harsh chemicals, and reduced risks for exposure to skin or eyes are amongst some of the key demands from consumers. 

Cafetto has been manufacturing cleaning products for coffee brewing equipment for over 20 years. From espresso machines, grinders, and milk pitchers to a pod machine cleaning home range, they recently added sustainably-sourced cleaning items to their portfolio.

“The demand for organic products is undeniable,” says Jason Bond, International Business Manager for Cafetto. “Looking at the way the coffee industry is placing sustainability at the forefront of decision-making, it’s no surprise this has gone from a luxury to a necessity for not only coffee, but also machine equipment.” 

The organic range offered by Cafetto includes 15 products across a range of liquids, powders and tablets, each certified by the Australian Certified Organic (ACO). This means that all ingredients used within these products are tested and certified as allowed inputs for use in organic systems. To uphold this certification, Cafetto are audited by the ACO to ensure they are being held accountable for adhering to these stringent regulations.

cafetto cleaning tablets

Is coffee really organic if the rest of the supply chain isn’t?

Coffee farmers need to jump through plenty of hoops in order to obtain certification. It is a rigorous process, and a costly one. 

Producers must locate a certifying agency in their country and begin the process. They must then submit a plan to the agency about how the farm will achieve organic compliance, which is outlined in the USDA organic regulations

This is followed by an in-person assessment, and more strict rules and regulations to comply with, including no prohibited substances for three years and separate milling operations for organic coffee.

Organic coffee production can benefit farmers whose wider ecosystems, food security and parallel income streams (from honey production, for example) are protected, and environmental protection. 

For some consumers though, it is simply a chemical-free health reassurance. For this group, does the organic claim still hold true if the rest of the supply chain’s processes are not organic?

The importer must maintain the necessary documents for importing and a clean warehouse space designated for organic coffee. Once the coffee reaches the roaster, they must prioritise roasting organic coffee, ensuring clean practices and avoiding cross-contamination. 

There are many other layers to consider though, including the milk, sugar, machinery, and cleaning products that contribute to the organic journey of coffee from farm to cup. 

“Cafetto strives to achieve a balance of quality, premium products and sustainability,” says Richard Surynt, the Regulatory and Quality Manager at Cafetto. 

And that’s exactly what they have done with their Certified Organic Range. Products with the ACO certification contain ingredients that are free from genetically modified organisms and phosphates. These contain biodegradable surfactants that can be easily broken down, to reduce negative environmental impact.

Producers put in a high level of effort to obtain organic certification, but it is up to the rest of the supply chain to uphold the certification and preserve the organic nature of the coffee. 

The full “farm to cup” experience trend 

Consumers of specialty coffee are demanding more certified and traceable coffee. Research has revealed that millennials and Gen Z consumers are more likely to purchase organically labelled products, such as coffee, than older generations.

In a market where new certifications pop up almost daily, the organic label is one that is easy to understand and that consumers feel comfortable with. Within a saturated market where label fatigue is weighing on customers, it offers simple reassurance.

Consumers are therefore likely to support businesses or roasters that are maintaining these standards, and drive the demand for more organic, holistic coffee experiences. 

“As consumers become more knowledgeable around understanding the finer details behind the influx of environmental claims we see today, they have come to expect quality and accountability from start to finish,” says Jason.

Meanwhile, the “full experience” from farm to shelf is a business philosophy that is gathering speed. Zero waste policy coffee shops, or woman-owned cafes from farm to cup are just some examples of this holistic consumption approach.

Whole Foods is a good example of this model at a larger scale. The American multinational supermarket chain sells products free from hydrogenated fats and artificial colours, flavours, and preservatives. It positions itself as a reliable organic grocery store – from farm to shelf – that consumers can trust. Could coffee follow suit?

Cafetto has certainly positioned itself as an essential player in the “full organic experience” business model, offering certified products further down the supply chain that impact the final brewed coffee product.

“Essentially, what we’re doing is providing a comprehensive end-to-end environmental tick of approval across the board, and we do this by holding ourselves accountable for our actions,” says Richard.  

“What our customers end up with is high-quality, premium products that carry the environmentally conscious tick of approval for our present and our future – that’s how we protect our people and our planet.” 

Coffee Intelligence

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