Albertsons Companies, The Kroger Co., and Williams-Sonoma Announce Major Commitments to Fair Trade Certified Coffee as Part of Sustainable Coffee Challenge

Leading Retailers Add to List of Commitments Made to Support Coffee Farming Communities Facing Industry-Wide Pricing Challenges
Sep 26, 2019 9:15 AM ET
Press Release

OAKLAND, Calif., SEPTEMBER 26, 2019 /3BL Media/ - Fair Trade USA, the leading certifier of Fair Trade products in North America, in collaboration with the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, announces another round of historic commitments made by leading retailers in support of sustainable coffee sourcing and improved farmer livelihoods. Coffee farmers around the world have been struggling with record low C-Market prices for the last year, and the Sustainable Coffee Challenge is one way that the coffee industry is taking action to bring about positive change.  

These commitments come as instability in the coffee industry has driven prices down, causing severe financial hardships for farmers and farming communities, as shown by joint research from Cornell University and Fair Trade USA. In this context, farmers are forced to make difficult decisions about whether they can continue farming coffee, and how they can cut costs to survive the current crisis – in some cases foregoing education for themselves and their families or going hungry. The volatile market has millions of producers looking for the price assurances and community development funds provided by the Fair Trade model, making this collaborative initiative among such a range of industry leaders such a meaningful action at this moment.   

As part of its commitment to the challenge,  Albertsons Companies has pledged that by mid-2020, 100 percent of its O Organics® coffee will be certified sustainable according to the Fair Trade USA standard or an equivalent.  “We put a lot of effort into helping people live better lives and strengthening the communities where we do business,” said Chad Coester, Albertsons Companies Own Brands Senior Vice President. “By responsibly sourcing our O Organics coffee, Albertsons Companies is again expanding its commitment to improving livelihoods and the environment.” 

Kroger has renewed its strong commitment to fair trade as part of the Sustainable Coffee Challenge.  “Kroger’s Simple Truth® brand is committed to sourcing 100% Fair Trade Certified coffee,” said Lisa Zwack, Head of Sustainability at Kroger. “We are proud to share that we already source 100% of our Simple Truth coffees from abroad in accordance with Fair Trade standards.  We will uphold this commitment as we add new products and new coffee-growing regions—including those in the US – become certified over the next few years.” 

Additionally, all of Williams-Sonoma's coffee will be Fair Trade Certified by the beginning of 2020.  “Right now is a pivotal moment for brands to make a positive impact through pledging certification of fair trade coffee,” said ­­Danielle Jezienicki, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, Williams-Sonoma, Inc. “We’re proud to expand our commitment to improving the livelihoods of coffee farmers and the environment through responsible sourcing.”  

Albertsons Companies, Kroger, and Williams Sonoma join Target Corporation, Chartwells Higher Ed, UCLA, Bon Appetit Management Company, Atlas Coffee Importers, the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC), and a host of other members of the coffee industry in making significant commitments to fair trade as part of the Sustainable Coffee Challenge. Together, these pledges will contribute to the additional sales of millions of pounds of Fair Trade Certified coffee, resulting in significant increases in prices paid and community development funds. Coffee sold on fair trade terms grants farmers increased market access with the opportunity to sell their coffee on more sustainable terms and find an alternative to the volatility of conventional coffee markets. For consumers, it means greater availability of fair trade goods and better communications about the impacts of the model. 

"The pricing crisis that coffee farmers are facing is devastating and putting families in dire need of support from the industry,” said Abby Ayers,” Head of Retail Partnerships at Fair Trade USA.  “We are encouraged by the commitments made by these prominent retailers, which will have a significant impact on farming communities around the globe and bring attention to the urgent need for improvement in outdated coffee sourcing practices in order to preserve our beloved morning beverage.” 

Fair Trade USA and movement allies will continue to work to increase the impact of the Fair Trade model and invite others interested in scaling sustainable coffee sourcing to continue the momentum by joining with their own commitments in the coming months and years. The organization’s Just One Cup campaign, launching today, aims to educate Americans about the differences they can make by choosing to drink just one cup of Fair Trade Certified coffee. 

About Fair Trade USA 
Fair Trade USA is a nonprofit organization and the leading certifier of Fair Trade products in North America. Its trusted Fair Trade Certified™ seal on a product signifies that it was made according to rigorous Fair Trade standards that promote sustainable livelihoods and safe working conditions, protection of the environment, and strong, transparent supply chains. Rather than creating dependency on aid, the Fair Trade model empowers farmers, workers, and fishermen to fight poverty and earn additional money to improve their communities. Recognized as a leading social venture by the Clinton Global Initiative, the Skoll Foundation, and Ashoka, Fair Trade USA also helps brands and retailers tell their stories of impact and educates consumers about the power of their purchase. Visit FairTradeCertified.org for more information. 

Fair Trade standards protect farmers from dramatic dips in the market price by requiring a floor price of $1.40/pound with an additional $.30 for Organic coffee.  Additionally, for every pound of Fair Trade Certified coffee sold, farmers earn an additional $0.20 premium on top of the sale price. These earnings are placed into a Community Development Fund to be invested in critical community projects like education, healthcare, and quality improvement. This fund ensures that shoppers can have a direct impact on the farmers’ lives and address their most important needs each time they purchase Fair Trade Certified coffee. 

About the Sustainable Coffee Challenge 
The Sustainable Coffee Challenge is a collaborative effort of companies, governments, NGOs, research institutions and others to transition the coffee sector to be fully sustainable. Challenge partners are urgently working together to increase transparency, align around a common vision for sustainability and collaborate to accelerate progress toward those goals.  Launched during the 2015 Paris climate meetings with 18 founding partners, the Challenge aims to stimulate greater demand for sustainable coffee. The movement has since grown to more than 100 international partners. 

About Albertsons Companies 
Albertsons Companies is one of the largest food and drug retailers in the United States, with both a strong local presence and national scale. We operate stores across 34 states and the District of Columbia under 20 well-known banners including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen and Carrs, as well as meal kit company Plated based in New York City. Albertsons Companies is committed to helping people across the country live better lives by making a meaningful difference, neighborhood by neighborhood. In 2018 alone, along with the Albertsons Companies Foundation, the company gave $262 million in food and financial support. These efforts helped millions of people in the areas of hunger relief, education, cancer research and treatment, programs for people with disabilities and veterans’ outreach. 

About the Kroger Co.
At The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR), we are dedicated to our Purpose: To Feed the Human Spirit®. We are nearly half a million associates who serve over 11 million customers daily through a seamless digital shopping experience and 2,759 retail food stores under a variety of banner names, serving America through food inspiration and uplift, and creating #ZeroHungerZeroWaste communities by 2025. To learn more about us, visit our newsroom and investor relations site

About Williams Sonoma Inc. 
Since its founding by Chuck Williams in 1956, the Williams Sonoma brand has been bringing people together around food. A member of Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (NYSE: WSM) portfolio of brands, Williams Sonoma is a leading specialty retailer of high-quality products for the kitchen and home, providing world-class service and an engaging customer experience. Products include cookware, cooks’ tools, cutlery, electrics, bakeware, food, tabletop and bar, outdoor, cookbooks, as well as furniture, lighting and decorative accessories. Each store offers cooking classes and tastings conducted by expert culinary staff. A comprehensive gift registry program for weddings and other special events is available in stores and online. On williamssonoma.com and the Williams Sonoma blog, Taste, customers can find recipes, tips, and techniques that help them create delicious meals. Williams Sonoma can also be found on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. Williams Sonoma is also part of The Key Rewards, a free-to-join loyalty program that offers members exclusive benefits across the Williams-Sonoma, Inc. family of brands. 

Katie Schneider
Fair Trade USA