Coffee is the world’s second most tradable commodity (after oil) which makes it a big and complex business. UK consumers drink approximately 70 million cups of coffee per day, in and out of the home. Whilst sales at coffee shops continue to grow, the amount consumed in the home is in decline (particularly instant coffee).
Generally, coffee is grown within 1,000 miles of the equator, from the Tropic of Cancer in the north, to the Tropic of Capricorn in the south. It’s grown in more than 50 countries with Central and South America producing approximately two thirds of the world’s supply. There are two main commercial types of coffee bean – Robusta and Arabica. Robusta coffee grows best at lower altitudes whereas Arabica is better suited to higher altitudes. Seventy percent of the world’s coffee continues to be grown on farms of fewer than 10 hectares and most sell relatively small quantities – sometimes as little as only a few bags per year – to local traders, co-operatives, exporters and manufacturers. This means it can be a struggle to make a decent livelihood out of the crop. Climate change is also posing significant challenges to smallholder coffee farmers.
We sell coffee both in store and in our M&S Cafés. We are actually the UK’s third largest coffee shop chain, selling 35 million cups of coffee each year in 450 outlets, all sourced to high ethical and environmental standards.
Commitments and targets
We want to lead our sector in sustainable production and consumption, offering our customers the good value, high quality products and services they expect from M&S, while respecting planetary boundaries and the need for social equity.
We ensure that all the coffee we sell both in store and in our M&S Cafés is Fairtrade certified
. We are also committed to building resilient supply chain communities by investing in programmes which build livelihoods, protect the environment and improve wellbeing.
Coffee is very important to M&S. Our aim is to source the best tasting, best quality coffee from coffee co-operatives around the world. We source the majority of our coffee through two expert suppliers who have excellent relationships with our growers. We have been working with our key suppliers and many of the coffee growers for over 25 years and are very proud of the strength of our working relationships.
In 2004, we became the first retailer to source only Fairtrade
certified coffee for our M&S Cafés. We sold Fairtrade
only in stores from 2006. We took this decision to ensure that we have a viable coffee supply chain and to help strengthen the economic viability of the smallholder farmers within our supply chain.
Fairtrade sets social, economic and environmental standards for the companies and farmers involved in the supply chain. For farmers and workers the standards include protection of workers’ rights and the environment, for companies they include the payment of the Fairtrade Minimum Price safety net and an additional Fairtrade Premium.
To help combat climate change, Fairtrade supports farmers through providing technical advice from their expert Producer Networks and through their Fairtrade Standards, which requires small producers to take steps to:
Adapt to climate change
Reduce greenhouse gases and increase carbon sequestration
Avoid deforestation and protect forests
Tackle soil erosion and increase soil fertility
Reduce water usage
Our commitment to Fairtrade means that our growers receive over £680,000 a year in Fairtrade
premiums which goes to a communal fund for workers and farmers to use.
coffee standard only applies to smallholder farmers which means that all of our coffee is supplied by smallholder farmers from key sourcing countries. Find out more about the Coffee growers that we use on our Interactive Supplier Map
Our approach to sourcing coffee more responsibly is as follows: