Douwe Egberts taps UK ethical coffee trend

By Leah Vyse

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Fair trade, Coffee

International coffee roaster Douwe Egberts is set to follow
Nestlé's lead by launching an ethical coffee brand in the UK in
order to tap into the country's lucrative ethical consumer trend.

The company has been using a Netherlands-based supplier of 'ethical' coffee since March 2004 for its Dutch catering clients, but has chosen the UK to launch the new product because it believes Britain has the highest level of consumer concern about ethically sourced products.

The company intends to launch within the next six months in a bid to capture market share in a sector that has grown by around 40 per cent every year for the last five years. Currently 18 per cent of roasted and ground coffee in the UK is deemed fair trade.

In order to become part of this growing trend, the 250-year-old US-owned coffee company is working with the Utz Kapeh Foundation and Common Codes for the Coffee Community (the 4C initiative), in the ethical production of their new product.

Both organisations run programmes used to certify the socially responsible production of coffee.

"We are looking for a practical solution for the whole market,"​ said managing director of Douwe Egberts UK, Grant Rosewarne.

"Fairtrade cannot solve the whole problem. Utz Kapeh is a certification company, and they help farmers improve the quality of their products in order to increase the value on the market."

The 4C initiative uses a holistic approach to coffee production, where, Douwe Egberts claims, there is complete visibility of the production process. This allows the final product to be traced back to the individual farmer through a coding system.

The Utz Kapeh Foundation is a non-profit foundation, which was established as a partnership between coffee producers, roasters and Non-Governmental Organizations.

Last month they announced a 46 per cent growth in purchases of Utz Kapeh certified coffee.

Utz Kapeh's executive director, David Rosenberg, said: "This continued growth shows that coffee brands increasingly see the Utz Kapeh standard for responsible coffee as the best way to incorporate and credibly demonstrate their socially and environmentally responsible business practices."

Rosewarne said: "We think Douwe Egberts already has a responsible position in the market but we acknowledge that people are concerned about social responsibility and we're looking at ways to address that."

The fair trade sector in the UK is becoming crowded - Nestlé for example recently announced its decision to enter the fair trade market with its first certified fair trade product, Partners' Blend.

Nestlé, the world's biggest direct coffee buyer, chose to get certified by the UK Fairtrade Foundation, affiliated to the international Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International. The Foundation says it is the "only independent guarantee that disadvantaged producers in developing countries have received a better deal"​.

The group said there were now over 1,000 certified fair trade products now available in the UK. The market value reached £140m in 2004.

Related topics: Market Trends

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