Nespresso Announces Sustainability Advisory Board



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Nespresso has initiated an advisory board to reach its sustainability goals.

Nespresso is solidifying its belief in sustainability, even though consumers don’t always recycle its coffee pods.

On July 16, the Nestle-owned, largest maker of single-serve coffee announced The Nespresso Sustainability Advisory Board (NSAB), which will present new initiatives for farmer welfare and environmental stewardship. According to a press release, the program will improve coffee traceability to the farm level and will launch community development programs that address key socio-economic challenges in coffee growing communities. Board members include Fairtrade International and Rainforest Alliance. And in case these esteemed organizations weren’t enough, Nespresso Brand Ambassador George Clooney can add this to his list of humanitarian accomplishments. The program will begin in Ethiopia and Kenya and will later try to reestablish a coffee industry in South Sudan. “The program will provide much-needed income and security for thousands of farmers and their families living in coffee communities in South Sudan,” says Clooney.

CEO of Nestlé Nespresso Jean-Marc Duvoisin says in the release, “The insight and independent perspectives brought by these thought leaders…will ensure that we remain focused on initiatives that will have a positive overall impact on the environment and social aspects of our value chain.” The company’s 10-year AAA Program has worked with the Rainforest Alliance to make significant moves for the sustainable quality to produce benefits for farmers and their communities, but Duvoisin says there is more to be done. “We are driven by the need to continue to move forward.”

The partners expect to double the amount of coffee sourced from the region to 10,000 tons by 2020.


George Clooney 'saddened' by alleged child labour on Nespresso coffee farms

George Clooney has said he is “surprised and saddened” by the alleged discovery of child labour on farms used by coffee giant Nespresso, the brand for which he has long served as ambassador.

The Oscar-winning actor and director, who during school holidays worked on his own family’s tobacco farm in Kentucky, vowed that “work will be done” to improve conditions after a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary, due to air next week, filmed children picking coffee beans and hauling sacks on six Guatemalan farms believed to supply Nespresso.

“Having grown up working on a tobacco farm from the time I was 12, I’m uniquely aware of the complex issues regarding farming and child labour,” said Clooney in a statement.

“Clearly this board and this company still have work to do. And that work will be done.”

In response the company, which is part of Swiss conglomerate Nestlé and advertises its coffee as ethically sourced, has launched a “thorough investigation” into its farms in Guatemala and suspended all purchases from the problem plantations.

“Nespresso has zero tolerance of child labour,” said Guillaume Le Cunff, the Nespresso CEO, in a statement.

“It is unacceptable. Where there are claims that our high standards are not met, we act immediately.

“Any issues we uncover will be dealt with diligently and firm action will be taken. We work with Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade International to reinforce good working practices and fair treatment of workers, including education on the dangers of child labour.

“We will continue to do all we can to stamp child labour out. It has no place in our supply chain.”

Despite numerous corporate-led and third-party audit visits to Nespresso’s coffee farms in Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Uganda and other supplying countries, only two cases of child labour were reported in 2019, according to Nespresso. Fifteen cases were reported over the past four years, although none of them were in Guatemala, and each one was “effectively resolved”, the company said.

However, Le Cunff admitted that its coffee suppliers are given “a day or two days” advanced notice when spot checks take place.


Inspired by Luigi Bezzera’s 1901 espresso coffee machine, we developed a company around a simple idea: deliver barista-style coffee, anywhere and everywhere. With four varieties of encapsulated coffee, we set to work bringing our revolutionary concept to life in the sectors of Switzerland, Japan and Italy. Only three years later, Nespresso would expand into the Swiss household market and create the Nespresso Club.

Delicious but simple exclusive but ubiquitous, Nespresso was well on the way to crafting the ultimate coffee experience. Customers thought so too, so we expanded into France and the United States. Part of that experience? Following our coffee from beginning to end. As a result of this concept, our capsule recycling program was also launched in Switzerland this year.


Center for Sustainable Business | Advisory Board

Giannella Alvarez is a Global executive with P&L experience across a wide range of consumer categories in the US and globally. Led multi-billion-dollar brands for Fortune 50 and Fortune 100 companies such as Procter & Gamble and The Coca-Cola Company in senior executive positions, and have driven growth in private companies like Barilla and start-ups like Harmless Harvest Inc, as President and CEO. A highly creative and decisive leader, a catalyst of change and a talent builder capable of energizing organizations across countries, customers and channels. Significant on-the-ground international experience.

Raphael Bemporad is the founding partner of BBMG. He is a passionate champion for a new approach to brand innovation that uses sustainability to create shared value. An expert in brand strategy, innovation strategy, CSR/cause marketing and public affairs, Raphael has created national campaigns, drafted public policy, designed consumer and nonprofit brands, managed cause-related partnerships and managed communications for local, state and federal elected officials. He received his BA in Philosophy with honors from the University of Texas at Austin.

David Chubak (JD '05) was named Citi's Global Head of Productivity in March 2013. For nearly a decade, David worked with leading global institutions and governments to shape their strategies, overhaul their operation and restructure their organizations. David earned a BA with honors from Columbia University and a JD from New York University School of Law. He is an active member of the New York community, lectures at industry events, and serves on the advisory boards of several New York organizations. He represents Citi as a Corporate Member on the Council on Foreign Relations.

John F. Ghingo (MBA '00) was named president of Applegate, the nation’s leading natural and organic meat brand in 2018. He is responsible for driving forward the company’s mission: Changing The Meat We Eat. He leads a senior team that touches all aspects of the Applegate business from farm to fork. Prior to Applegate, Ghingo led the Silk and So Delicious Dairy Free brands for The Whitewave Company as president of plant-based food and beverages. He was charged with developing and implementing a broader, innovative strategic growth plan for the highly competitive plant-based foods market. Before WhiteWave, Ghingo spent 17 years at Mondelēz International where he held several marketing leadership positions. He managed several billion-dollar brands including Oreo, Cadbury and Trident. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame and earned his MBA from the Stern School of Business at NYU. Ghingo is on the national board of After-School All-Stars.

Jeffrey S. Gould (CAS '79) graduated from the NYU College of Arts & Sciences in 1979 at age 19. After obtaining his Juris Doctorate, he joined his family business, Gould Publications/GouldLaw, founded by his parents, Norman (1927-2018) and Jeanette. That business was sold to Lexis/Nexis in 2004. As President of Gould Training Center, he continues to serve the law enforcement community. Gould also serves as the co-founder and Chairman of WaxxTech, a company specializing in patented sound sourcing technology. Gould serves on several philanthropic boards and with his family, has established many College Academic Scholarships. Gould is a member of the NYUAA Board, the NYU CAS Dean’s Advisory Board and is a Trustee on the NYU Board of Trustees. In 2010, Jeffrey and his wife, Lenore, established the The 3E Fund to support Education, Expression, & the Environment.

Oktay Kurbanov (MBA '01) worked at AQR Capital Management for more than 20 years through 2019, most recently as a Co-Head of Portfolio Implementation. He joined AQR in 1998 when the firm was just founded with 15 people, becoming a Principal in 2005. Oktay’s responsibilities included building and enhancing AQR’s portfolio optimization and trade generation infrastructure, establishing and managing portfolio implementation of asset allocation strategies, helping oversee portfolio implementation of stock selection strategies. In 2020, he retired from active involvement at AQR, becoming a Senior Advisor. Oktay’s non-profit experience includes 12 years as a Trustee of Whitby School, 8 years of which he was a Treasurer. He has a B.S. in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Michigan and an M.B.A. in Finance and Statistics from NYU Stern School of Business. His future interests include environment, sustainability, and investments in the impact and energy transition space.

Guillaume Le Cunff is the Chief Executive Officer for Nestle Nespresso S.A. In addition to his Presidential duties, Guillaume has been appointed Chairman of the Nespresso Sustainable Development Fund announced in August 2014. Guillaume has been instrumental in creating shared value for society through Nespresso’s Ecolaboration™ mission. Guillaume began his career in audit and finance for various companies before joining the Finance and Control department of Nestlé Waters in 1998. Guillaume, a French native, holds an MBA in Business and Management.

Paula Loop (Advisory Board Chair) is the leader of PwC’s Governance Insights Center, which strives to strengthen the connection between directors, executive teams and investors by helping them navigate the evolving governance landscape. With more than 20 years of experience at PwC, Paula brings extensive knowledge in governance, technical accounting, and SEC and financial reporting matters to organizations. Paula is a well known speaker on a variety of governance topics. She has also been quoted in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Forbes and CNBC. Paula has twice been named to Directorship Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in US corporate governance. Paula is a Certified Public Accountant (licensed in New York) and is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with a B.S. in Business Administration.

Richmond (Rick) Mayo-Smith (MBA '86) invests in private equity and start-ups with a sustainable focus in Asia and the USA. Examples include Trella, a company that plants trees in Chinese cities, Smart Sorting, a US company that recycles hazardous waste, KGRN an ETF focused on Chinese green companies. Prior to becoming an impact investor, Mr. Mayo-Smith was an entrepreneur, fund manager and real estate developer for 30 years in Asia, including 10 years in Hong Kong, 20 years in Vietnam and 5 years in Singapore. He is the co-founder of Indochina Capital, a fund management firm that invests in real estate, private equity and public markets. Prior to starting Indochina, he served as an advisor to Citicorp Capital and Morgan Stanley, sourcing investments in the Indochina region. From 1981 to 1991 he was an entrepreneur in the hospitality business, operating throughout Asia. He has an M.B.A. from New York University Stern and a B.A. in Urban Planning/ Environmental Design from Hampshire College. He is a member of the NYU Stern Board of Overseers.



Andy Taylor is the Chief Executive Officer at Gore Mutual Insurance, Canada’s oldest mutual property and casualty insurance company. He currently leads the company’s ‘Next Horizon’ strategy, which supports the company’s ambitious transformation to become a digitally led, purpose-driven, national scale insurer. Having worked with the Board of Directors and the executive team to develop the strategy over the past two years, in his role as CEO he oversees the complete transformation of the company’s operating model and technology platforms to create best-in-class solutions for brokers and customers. Andy joined Gore Mutual in 2005 and has held progressive senior roles within the organization, most recently holding the position of Chief Financial Officer and Chief Risk Officer at Gore, where he was responsible for strategic finance, investments, reinsurance, and risk management. Andy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Western University and is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA).

Chris Policinski (MBA '85) is the retired CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc, a $15 Billion, Fortune 200 Food and Agricultural company. Currently, he is the Lead Independent Director at Hormel Foods, the Lead Independent Director at Xcel Energy, is a board member at several non-profit organizations, and provides consulting services on growth strategy to start-up companies. Chris’ nearly 40 year career in the food industry included leadership positions at General Foods, Kraft, Bristol Myers and Pillsbury and functional assignments in Finance, Marketing, Strategy and M&A. While CEO at Land O’Lakes, Chris led tremendous growth of the organization, seeing sales more than double and the company expand its businesses into China and Africa. Chris holds an undergraduate degree in finance from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from The Stern School at NYU.


Star Power

Without a doubt, the Nespresso brand gained a lot of notariety and cachet when it signed actor George Clooney to be a brand ambassador in 2006. Although the A-list celebrity was a plus in the company’s advertising, they also gained a partner: Clooney has, in fact, been a co-owner since 2013. The advertising deal reportedly netted Clooney $40 million, which he recently revealed was used to fund a satellite to watch over activities in Sudan. Clooney’s participation.

The actor also sits on Nespresso’s Sustainability Advisory Board, and is focused on improving sustainability. has done a lot to improve coffee farming. He notes that Nespresso has done a great deal to improve coffee farming across the globe.

They’ve risked their lives trying to rebuild farms in South Sudan and spent a year on the ground helping farmers restore their farms in Puerto Rico after the hurricane,” he told NBC news.

Recently, after allegations of child labor being used to produce coffee in Guatemala, Clooney noted that there is clearly still work to do and the Nespresso CEO said an investigation was being launched.


Nespresso expands recycling partnership with UPS

Consumers can now recycle used single-serve coffee capsules at 88,000 UPS drop-off points across the U.S.

Nespresso has announced it has expanded its partnership with UPS from 20 states to 48 states to significantly extend the reach of its U.S. recycling program. By adding additional collection points in more locations across the country, consumers can now recycle Nespresso used capsules at 88,000 UPS drop-off points.

“We are committed to making recycling as convenient as possible for each of our consumers, which is why we have expanded our program with UPS,” says Guillaume Le Cunff, president of Nespresso USA, based in Long Island City, New York, and member of the Nespresso Sustainability Advisory Board. “By using aluminum packaging, which is recyclable, everyone who enjoys Nespresso has an option to recycle their used capsules. We will continue investing to make it easier for our consumers to recycle, as their participation is essential to make our recycling efforts a success.”

Nespresso offers prepaid recycling bags for consumers in 48 states to mail back used capsules to be recycled. Those consumers can bring their bag filled with Nespresso used capsules to one of the 88,000 UPS drop off locations in 48 states. Recycling bags can be given to UPS drivers or taken to The UPS Store, a UPS Drop Box, a UPS Customer Center, Office Depot or Staples locations, or UPS Authorized Shipping Outlets. Consumers can obtain bags free of charge by asking for them at a Nespresso Boutique, ordering them online or calling the Nespresso Customer Relationship Center. There is no charge to drop off a prepaid return package, according to the company.

“UPS is pleased to be working with Nespresso to help bring capsule recycling to the entire continental U.S.,” says Arnold Barlow, UPS senior manager for sustainability solutions. “We are committed to enabling our customers to operate their businesses more sustainably and are pleased to have delivered a solution to Nespresso to do just that.”

In addition to UPS, Nespresso has two other options in the U.S. to allow individuals to recycle their capsules, including 500 collection points at Nespresso Boutiques across the country and drop-off locations at select retail partners such as Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma and others (The full list of drop-off locations and partners can be found here.)

Consumers can find the nearest recycling option by downloading and using the Nespresso app or by visiting the Nespresso website, www.nestle-nespresso.com. Capsules for professional customers also can be collected for recycling in the same way.

Once capsules are collected, they are sent to Nespresso partner, Ag Choice, where the aluminum is separated from coffee grounds. The coffee grounds are turned into nutrient-rich compost and topsoil and aluminum is processed and sent back to the aluminum value chain to be reused to produce new products. Aluminum is used in a wide range of other products ranging from window frames to bicycles.

Beyond recycling, Nespresso says it also looks at how it can make a difference in the overall aluminum supply chain and plays an active part in helping to drive the responsible production of aluminum through its participation in the Aluminum Stewardship Initiative (ASI).

The Nespresso sustainability strategy includes specific goals related to coffee sourcing, aluminum and capsule recycling, and climate that are designed to generate positive impacts across the entire value chain. For more information on Nespresso’s sustainability approach, visit http://www.nestle-nespresso.com/sustainability.

Nestlé Nespresso SA says is the pioneer and reference for highest-quality portioned coffee. Headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland, Nespresso operates in 64 countries and has more than 12,000 employees. In 2015, it operated a global retail network of over 450 exclusive boutiques.


A Brand Embassy for Coffee Lovers: Nespresso’s New Flagship Concept Debuts in Vienna

For coffee devotees, there’s something captivating about the aroma of a freshly brewed cup and that first sip in the morning. Luxury coffee and espresso brand Nespresso is tapping into the power of those emotive experiences with the launch of its new immersive flagship boutique concept in Vienna, Austria.

With a global retail network of 809 boutiques in 532 cities, Nespresso views these physical locations as an integral part of its omnichannel approach. “Our retail network is, and remains, one of the best ways to deliver a meaningful brand experience,” said Jean-Christophe Jaunin, Global B2C Head at Nespresso in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “We strongly believe in the relevance and power of retail as a brand-building channel. We indeed see that many customers appreciate a physical shopping experience and the direct face-to-face contact with our coffee specialists. Our boutiques act as true brand embassies.”

The physical store network, combined with its DTC model, provides Nespresso with a distinctive opportunity to offer a seamless and personalized experience to customers. “It allows us to deeply understand our customers’ preferences and needs, which enables us to serve them better and bring immersive shopping moments, personal interaction with experts and more human connections than ever,” Jaunin said.

In response to major shifts in the coffee category — driven by younger consumers seeking authentic experiences — and listening to customers’ shopping preferences and convenience needs, Nespresso’s new boutique concept was developed to elevate its retail approach. The result is a pilot concept that focuses on experiences that share coffee as an art.

Nespresso has begun piloting this new concept in Austria, with intentions to introduce it globally over the next five years. The new flagship boutique aims to bridge the gap between offline and online retail, delivering artistic, innovative and in-person brand experiences while incorporating sustainable design.

An Experience Designed Around 5 Arts

To inspire and excite shoppers with the stories and artistry behind coffees from around the world, Nespresso will feature inspiring elements from the five arts of the coffee universe across its established boutique network:

  1. Art of Design, an ambition to spark feelings and evoke emotions through beautiful aesthetics, materials and design. Within the Vienna flagship, Nespresso has introduced café-inspired seating areas for sharing a coffee moment.
  2. Art of Coffee Savoir-Faire, from tasting rituals and coffee masterclasses to in-depth knowledge about the roasting and grinding of coffee beans, Nespresso will enable customer discovery of coffee aromas and origin taste characters.
  3. Art of Sharing and Caring , using storytelling to bring customers closer to Nespresso through a shared passion for coffee. Through local events and partnerships, the new flagship concept offers a localized experience designed to bring those who love coffee and the Nespresso community together.
  4. Art of Circularity, showing visitors how Nespresso recycles its used aluminum capsules upcycles and takes actions to preserve the planet’s resources through interactive dashboards and a dedicated Recycling Corner in the boutique where customers will be able to return their used capsules. For the first time in a Nespressoboutique, refurbished coffee machines are for sale.
  5. Art of Hospitality, focusing on a renewed commitment to excellent customer service and an experience in line with its hospitality heritage, offering an inviting, warm atmosphere to enjoy coffee. The flagship boutique also provides exclusive services, such as gift engraving and product personalization.

Storytelling and Brand Immersion via Digital Moments

The experiential Vienna flagship includes several innovations, such as a Coffee Lab where customers can explore the stories and expertise behind Nespresso coffees, as well as learn about different ways to prepare and enjoy coffee through a variety of brewing methods — including those beyond the Nespresso system.

These storytelling moments are amplified by blending digital with the physical store environment to further immerse consumers with all their senses in the brand universe and engage with them in a personalized way, Jaunin said. “For example, tasting rituals, already successful in our boutiques, will now be complemented with digital experiences, such as interactive dashboards that tell the story of how we support coffee farmers through the AAA Sustainable Quality Program,” he added.

Starting in summer 2021, the Vienna flagship also will introduce augmented reality (AR) experiences and a multisensory immersive room capable of creating a variety of brand moments. Visitors will be able to digitally interact face-to-face with top chefs or engage with coffee farmers taking part in the brand’s AAA Sustainable Quality Program.

The use of AR is just another way the brand is hoping to inspire its customers and showcase the art of coffee using state-of-the-art technology and sensory excitement — and including digital aspects in its boutiques is a significant part of its wider retail strategy. “Our digital elements, such as the dashboards and also augmented and virtual reality experiences, create that frictionless experience and make the boutique a more engaging environment for customers,” said Jaunin.

Unique and Localized Connections

Each flagship will be unique, focusing on local partnerships, merchandise, activations and initiatives to create curated and personalized experiences. To make the Vienna flagship boutique uniquely local to its home city, Nespresso introduced Viennese design and décor throughout, including cushions based on the designs of historic artist Josef Hoffmann, original lighting by iconic manufacturer WOKA and skylights inspired by the architecture of the famous Palais Ferstel. This local approach extends to the tastes and aromas that customers can enjoy: shoppers can enjoy typical Viennese coffee recipes such as “Wiener Einspänner,” “Fiaker” or “Franziskaner.”

An Emphasis on Sustainable Boutique Design

For the new flagship concept,Nespresso has collaborated with retail sustainability experts Quantum4 to ensure sustainable furniture design, sourced to reduce the carbon footprint and minimize overall environmental impact. In addition, the flagship boutique is BREEAM certified.

Nespresso also is assessing and reviewing the sustainability performance of its boutiques around the world against 69 criteria within three categories: climate change, health and wellbeing and resources and circularity. Since 2017, all new boutiques have been equipped with sustainability features such as LED lighting, FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)-certified wood, table tops made with recycled coffee grounds or the use of energy from renewable resources. By 2030, Nespresso’s ambition is to run all of its permanent boutiques entirely on renewable energy.


The Positive Cup: Nespresso ploughs £330m into sustainable development

Nestle's coffee brand is accelerating its sustainability focus with the launch of an ambitious new programme to become 'carbon neutral' by 2020.

The new sustainability programme, entitled The Positive Cup, was announced earlier today (27 August) by Nespresso's CEO Jean-Marc Duvoisin. It introduces several major initiatives that Duvoisin says will 'create significant benefits for the business, society and the environment'.

"Our sustainability approach has always been designed to do more than simply minimise impacts," he said. "The development of even more innovative programs with our partners demonstrates our commitment to creating shared value and generating positive impacts for all stakeholders across the entire value chain."

The Positive Cup program is based on an investment of 500m Swiss francs (£329m) over the next six years. Part of this investment will be used to establish a new Sustainable Development Fund, which will play a key role in channelling resources into specific projects in the areas of coffee sourcing and social welfare aluminium sourcing, use and disposal and resilience to climate change.

Carbon Insetting

In terms of carbon neutrality, Nespresso has specifically committed to '100% carbon insetting' by 2020. The company plans to inset its residual operational carbon footprint and increase farm climate resilience through an extensive agroforestry programme, and reduce its overall carbon footprint by a further 10%.

In addition, Nespresso wants to be using 100% sustainably sourced coffee and 100% sustainably managed aluminium by 2020.

"Our business model enables us to be involved in every stage of coffee sourcing, production and sale," added Duvoisin. "It allows us to maintain particularly close relationships and have a direct dialogue with our consumers and Club Members. "As a result, we have a unique opportunity to strongly engage with our Members to achieve our Positive Cup commitments, in particular as it relates to capsule recycling. Nespresso cannot achieve its objectives alone. We call on our Club Members to actively take part in furthering our recycling efforts."

VIDEO: Nespresso's Sustainability Programme

Today's announcement comes as part of the second annual meeting of the Nespresso Sustainability Advisory Board, which brought together long-time Nespresso brand ambassador George Clooney and partners including The Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade International and TechnoServe.

Exceeding goals

The company has also placed an extra emphasis on staff engagement with its sustainability programme. Earlier this summer, Nespresso's head of sustainability Jérôme Perez explained that 'there is now a very real need to ensure both current and future business students understand the importance of sustainability for the future success of business'. Read our exclusive interview with Perez here.

Nespresso has met and surpassed its 2013 sustainability commitments, set out in 2009. The company has exceeded its goal of sourcing 80% of its coffee from its AAA Sustainable Quality Program, putting in place the capacity to recycle over 75% of Nespresso capsules sold worldwide and reducing the carbon footprint of a cup of Nespresso coffee by 20%.

The company also today announced that it will meet its target to increase sales by £329m this year.


Dispatches: Starbucks and Nespresso: The Truth About Your Coffee

The UK is a nation of self-confessed coffee lovers. Starbucks and Nespresso – owned by Nestle – have helped revolutionise the way we drink coffee on the high street and now in our home. Both these brands make great play of their ethical credentials and claim to have “zero tolerance” of child labour.

But an investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches has uncovered evidence that shows the truth to be rather different.

Last year Dispatches received information that coffee farms in Guatemala supplying these two coffee giants were employing children. Neither company publishes a list of the farms where they get their beans from, so Dispatches travelled to Guatemala to find out more. Posing as researchers scouting locations for a film showing where Britain’s favourite coffee comes from, the team were able to gain access to these suppliers and were taken to farms they were told supply Starbucks or Nespresso.

Dispatches reporters were able to film children working long hours in gruelling conditions. Where they were able to speak to the children, they were told many of them were aged 11 or 12, but others looked as young as 8 years old. Dispatches was told that the children worked up to six days a week and around eight hours a day through the heat of the day – and had to contend with biting insects and possible snakes.

The children are paid depending on the weight of beans they pick and at the end of the day they must carry their heavy sacks of beans to a weighing area. These sacks can weigh anything up to 100lbs and Dispatches reporters witnessed children struggling to carry sacks to the weighing area. Typically, a child would earn less than £5 a day, although sometimes it can be as low as 31p an hour, which is much less than needed to buy essential food.

Most of the children must work so their siblings and parents can afford basic essentials. Given the average cost of a cup of coffee in the UK is priced at £2.50 why do coffee workers earn so little? Broken down you see that farmers, and their workers, get a fraction of what we spend. This is where your money goes:

The coffee shops receive 88p

Then staff working in the shop account for 63p.

Milk, cups, stirrers and napkins add up to around 28p.

A profit of 25p goes to the coffee company like Starbucks or Nespresso.

This leaves just 10p for the coffee suppliers, and of that 10p, just 1p goes to the farmer. A fraction of that 1p will go to the coffee pickers.

Starbucks has an annual global revenue of more than £20bn, and in the UK alone it has almost 1,000 cafes. Nespresso has transformed how consumers drink coffee at home, with Hollywood star George Clooney as the face of the brand, Nespresso’s sales in the UK have topped a £1bn and have sold more than 20 billion of its capsules worldwide. Guatemala is one of the poorest countries in the world, despite being the 10th biggest coffee producer worldwide and being globally renowned for the high quality of its beans.

Over the course of the investigation, Dispatches visited seven farms linked to Nespresso and five linked to Starbucks. Child labour was found on all of these.

Dispatches showed some of their evidence to a human rights lawyer who said the evidence suggested the two companies were in breach of international labour regulations laid down by the UN-body, the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The ILO says children under 14 are not allowed to work if it is harmful to their health or interferes with their schooling.

Oliver Holland from solicitors Leigh Day said: “The conventions are very clear in that they don’t want children’s education to be compromised. If children are working 40 hours a week there is no way they can also be having a proper education…These are all unsafe conditions for children essentially and in those conditions, children simply shouldn’t be working.”

Reporter Antony Barnett contacted the face of Nespresso, George Clooney detailing some of the evidence he had seen in Guatemala.

George Clooney responded praising Channel 4’s investigation and said he was saddened by its findings. He has called on the Nespresso board to do more.

In his statement Mr Clooney said: “Having grown up working on a tobacco farm from the time I was 12 I’m uniquely aware of the complex issues regarding farming and child labour. That’s why I joined the Sustainability advisory board of Nespresso seven years ago …with the goal then, as it remains to this day to improve the lives of farmers. Make their farms more profitable. More sustainable. More safe. I’m enormously proud of the success of their efforts. They’ve improved the lives and livelihoods of thousands of farms all around the world…We knew it was a big project when it started 7 years ago, and honestly, I was surprised and saddened to see this story. Clearly this board and this company still have work to do. And that work will be done. I would hope that this reporter will continue to investigate these conditions and report accurately if they do not improve. The check and balance of good corporate responsibility lies not just with the company itself but also independent journalists like Mr. Barnett to hold everyone’s promise to account.”

Channel 4’s Dispatches requested an interview with Nespresso, but they declined.

In a statement to Dispatches, Nespresso’s chief executive Guillaume Le Cunff said: “Nespresso has zero tolerance of child labour. It is unacceptable. Where there are claims that our high standards are not met, we act immediately. In this case, we’ve launched a thorough investigation to find out which farms were filmed and whether they supply Nespresso. We will not resume purchases of coffee from farms in this area until the investigation is closed. Any issues we uncover will be dealt with diligently and firm action will be taken. We work with Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade International to reinforce good working practices and fair treatment of workers, including education on the dangers of child labour. We invest heavily in this effort in 2019, our 400 agronomists made over 170’000 farm visits and trainings across the world, including 60’000 detailed on farm sustainability assessments. This was backed up by more than 3,300 third party verification farm audits. We will continue to do all we can to stamp child labour out. It has no place in our supply chain.”

Starbucks also said it has a “zero tolerance for child labour anywhere in our supply chain” In a statement to Dispatches, it said: “We’ve launched a full investigation into the claims brought by Channel 4, carried out in partnership with a leading third-party auditor. We can confirm we have not purchased coffee from the farms in question during the most recent harvest season, and we will not do so until we can verify that they are not in breach of C.A.F.E. Practices – our ethical sourcing program developed in partnership with Conservation International that provides comprehensive social, environmental and economic standards, including zero tolerance for child labour.”

Notes to Editors

Any use of information in this release must credit: Dispatches, Monday 2nd March, 8pm on Channel 4


Children as young as eight picked coffee beans on farms supplying Starbucks

High street coffee shop giant Starbucks has been caught up in a child labour row after an investigation revealed that children under 13 were working on farms in Guatemala that supply the chain with its beans.

Channel 4’s Dispatches filmed the children working 40-hour weeks in gruelling conditions, picking coffee for a daily wage little more than the price of a latte. The beans are also supplied to Nespresso, owned by Nestlé. Last week, actor George Clooney, the advertising face of Nespresso, praised the investigation and said he was saddened by its findings.

The Dispatches team said some of the children, who worked around eight hours a day, six days a week, looked as young as eight. They, were paid depending on the weight of beans they picked, with sacks weighing up to 45kg. Typically, a child would earn less than £5 a day, although sometimes it could be as low as 31p an hour.

Over the course of the investigation, Dispatches visited seven farms linked to Nespresso and five linked to Starbucks. Child labour was found on all the farms.

A human rights lawyer who viewed some of the programme’s evidence suggested both companies were in breach of international labour regulations laid down by the UN’s International Labour Organization.

“The conventions are very clear in that they don’t want children’s education to be compromised,” said Oliver Holland of solicitors Leigh Day. “If children are working 40 hours a week, there is no way they can also be having a proper education.

“These are all unsafe conditions for children essentially, and in those conditions children simply shouldn’t be working.”

George Clooney is the marketing face of Nespresso.

Dispatches calculated that of £2.50 spent on a typical cup of coffee on the high street, the shop receives 88p. Staff receive 63p and 38p goes on tax. A profit of 25p goes to the coffee company – such as Starbucks, which has an annual global revenue of more than £20bn, and has nearly 1,000 shops in the UK alone.

After other costs are accounted for, 10p is left for the coffee suppliers, of which 1p goes to the farmer, who uses a fraction of this to pay coffee pickers.

Dispatches reporter Antony Barnett shared some of the evidence with Clooney. Last week, the Hollywood star, who sits on Nespresso’s sustainability advisory board, said: “I was surprised and saddened to see this story. Clearly this board and this company still have work to do. And that work will be done. I would hope that this reporter will continue to investigate these conditions and report accurately if they do not improve.

“The check and balance of good corporate responsibility lies not just with the company itself but also independent journalists like Mr Barnett to hold everyone’s promise to account.”

Nespresso’s chief executive, Guillaume Le Cunff, said: “Nespresso has zero tolerance of child labour. It is unacceptable. Where there are claims that our high standards are not met, we act immediately. In this case, we’ve launched a thorough investigation to find out which farms were filmed and whether they supply Nespresso. We will not resume purchases of coffee from farms in this area until the investigation is closed. Any issues we uncover will be dealt with diligently and firm action will be taken.”

Starbucks also said it had a “zero tolerance for child labour anywhere in our supply chain”. It told Dispatches: “We’ve launched a full investigation into the claims brought by Channel 4, carried out in partnership with a leading third-party auditor.”

Starbucks has since said that its investigation confirmed “we have not purchased coffee from the farms in question during the most recent harvest season”.

“We remain concerned and are taking action due to the fact that these farms were verified in 2019 against our ethical sourcing standards, which are the most comprehensive in the coffee industry,” said Michelle Burns, Starbucks global head of coffee.

Barnett said: “It’s great that George Clooney supports our investigation but if he is serious about sorting out this issue, he needs to make sure Nespresso puts its money where its mouth is. It’s far too easy to announce an investigation and halt supplies from these regions but this will further punish the farmers and desperately poor families who rely on them. The reason these kids are working is that their parents – and the farms they work on – are not paid enough.“

Dispatches will air on Monday at 8pm.

This article was updated on 1 March 2020 to include a statement from Starbucks that was received by the Guardian after publication. The headline was also amended in light of the statement.



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