Instant sustainability: Why the Nescafé Plan fails to benefit farmers

Switzerland is a coffee country! A large part of the global trading business is controlled from Switzerland, which is also the headquarters of the world’s largest coffee company – the food giant Nestlé. This dominant position also entails a great deal of responsibility. The reason for this is that, while the industry’s sustainability promises are becoming increasingly grandiose, a large proportion of coffee farmers still barely earn enough to live on.

Nestlé has promised to sell only “responsibly” produced coffee by 2025, and launched the Nescafé Plan with this intention in mind in 2010. We have conducted an extensive investigation, which has taken a close look at this sustainability programme and involved travelling to meet coffee farmers and harvest workers in Mexico and Brazil. The conclusion of this investigation is sobering. While Nestlé continues to generate large profits from the coffee business, the situation of producers has hardly improved. On the contrary, the persistently low prices paid by Nestlé mean that many no longer know how they’re going to make ends meet.