Starbucks invests in Chinese coffee growing

by Jeff Gelski
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KUMMING, CHINA — Starbucks Coffee Co. will help farmers in China promote responsible coffee-growing practices and develop localized coffee after the Seattle-based company agreed to collaborate with two government organizations. Starbucks on Nov. 12 signed Memorandum of Understanding agreements with the Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the People’s Government of Pu’er City, Yunnan Province.

As part of the collaboration, Starbucks will develop and operate a base farm and processing facilities. The company will operate a farmer support center, its first in Asia and third globally following Costa Rica and Rwanda. Agronomists and quality experts from Starbucks will provide coffee farmers in Yunnan with resources and expertise designed to promote responsible coffee-growing practices that improve quality and enhance yield. Research will focus on such areas as new varietals for local adaption, disease resistance and flavor improvements.

The provincial government plans to invest $450 million in expanding green bean volume to 200,000 tons by 2020 from the current 38,000 tons. Within the same time period coffee acreage is expected to increase to 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres) from 26,700 hectares (66,000 acres).

Starbucks, with the support of the Yunnan government, will introduce Starbucks Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.R.E.) Practices, which help farmers improve in coffee quality evaluation scores.

“We are focusing on areas where we can have the greatest impact: ethical sourcing, environmental stewardship and community involvement,” said Wang Jinlong, senior vice-president of Starbucks Coffee Co. and chairman of Starbucks Greater China.

Starbucks collaborating with Yunnan province coffee farmers and suppliers led to the launch of Starbucks South of the Clouds Blend in 2009. The blend features arabica coffee beans from China.
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