Sara Lee launching sustainable coffee plan

by Eric Schroeder
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UTRECHT, THE NETHERLANDS -- Sara Lee Corp. is launching a five-year initiative to boost its sustainable commodity program. The move will build on Sara Lee’s position as the world’s largest buyer of Utz Certified Good Inside coffee, according to the company.

Over the past five years, Sara Lee has bought more than 110 million kilos of Utz Certified Good Inside coffee, and the new initiative is expected to more than triple that amount in the next five years to at least 350 million kilos across all of its markets and product segments.

“Sara Lee's long-term goal is to use only certified coffee and tea in all products worldwide, and this new aggressive five-year plan is a very important step in accelerating our progress,” said Frank van Oers, chief executive officer of Sara Lee’s international beverage and bakery businesses. “By providing coffee growers visibility five years out and publicly committing to buy very large quantities of certified coffee we can contribute to improve sustainability in the mainstream coffee market worldwide.”

By 2015 Sara Lee said it will have more than 20% of its entire annual coffee volume certified sustainable.

To help achieve that goal, Sara Lee also announced it is expanding the number of sustainable certification partners with which it works. Although the Utz Certified Foundation will remain Sara Lee’s main partner for sustainable certification, the company will work occasionally with other programs such as certified organic or Rainforest Alliance.

In addition to certified coffee, Sara Lee in 2010 became the first company to bring to market Utz Certified Good Inside tea as part of its long-term commitment to achieve full certification. Sara Lee is already using certified tea for one third of its total European tea volume, which is sold under flagship brands such as Pickwich and Hornimans.

The Utz Certified Foundation is an independent non-profit organization that runs agricultural commodity sustainable certification programs. The foundation is dedicated to achieving sustainable agricultural supply chains that meet the growing needs and expectations of farmers, the industry and consumers.

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