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Mondelez Moves to Third-Party Sustainability Evaluation


Mondelez International, the multinational snack foods giant, has developed an outcome-based sustainability framework that will use an external party to measure the impact of its $200 million Coffee Made Happy program.

Mondelez, the world’s second largest coffee company, says the arrangement with the independent third-party organization, the Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA), will “provide unprecedented transparency on large scale” along the coffee supply chain.

Mondelez coffee brands include Jacobs, Carte Noire, Kenco and Tassimo. COSA will evaluate the “real impact experienced by farmers on the ground” of the Coffee Made Happy program. Program objectives aim to measure how Coffee Made Happy is achieving its objectives to improve farmers' business and agricultural skills, increase farm yields, and “engage young people and women in coffee farming so as to empower 1 million coffee entrepreneurs by 2020.”

Roland Weening, president of coffee for Mondelez, said in a press release that “this is important to guarantee the future of quality coffee to the world.”

The outcome-based evaluation framework is significant because it moves away from the usual transaction-based methods of monitoring and evaluation to a more inclusive, collaborative approach to sustainability along the supply chain. Weening says this “drives impactful investment, unprecedented levels of transparency and -- because we source from the projects where we invest -- ensures accountability to our partners and our consumers."

COSA is a global consortium of institutions that foster effective ways to measure and understand sustainability in the agri-food sector. Under its partnership with Mondelez, COSA will develop an evaluation framework that that builds on the company's existing use of 4C verification standards as the baseline for Coffee Made Happy. Evaluation will provide transparency to individual Coffee Made Happy projects already running in Honduras, Indonesia, Peru and Vietnam, as well as an “aggregated view” of positive change Coffee Made Happy is bringing across diverse geographies, Mondelez said.

Eventually the data collected in connection with the program will help build the world's largest database of coffee farm metrics, it continued.

Mondelez says the outcome-based evaluation framework is innovative and unique in focus and scale. Rather than only measuring the implementation of practices, it will measure the effective impact experienced by coffee farmers in two key areas:

  • Yearly reporting: Implementation partners will collect data on key indicators for Coffee Made Happy projects to measure and evaluate the progress of farmers' net income, environmental impact and attractiveness of coffee farming.

  • In-depth impact assessments: COSA will run these when Coffee Made Happy projects end -- typically after three years -- to “ensure the program is on track to achieving its vision to make coffee farming a profitable, sustainable and respected profession.”

Mondelez also created an independent advisory board of external experts to guide reporting and the ramp-up of its $200 million investment.

One of those experts, David McLaughlin, vice president of agriculture for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), said: "Mondelez International is setting the bar for a new generation of sustainable coffee programs and supporting their direct investment with a solid process to verify the impact the program has on farmers' livelihoods and the environment. Coffee produced sustainably has fewer impacts on local ecosystems and reduces deforestation."

Maybe this sounds like a bigger deal than it is, but it does elevate the typical coffee bean-counting methods of measuring sustainability to a new, potentially transformative way of viewing the long-term effects of sustainable coffee farming.

Image credit: My, How European by Jough Dempsey via Flickr cc

Bill DiBenedetto headshotBill DiBenedetto

Writer, editor, reader and generally good (okay mostly good, well sometimes good) guy trying to get by.

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