Starbucks Corporation Building a Sustainable Supply Chain
2007 | Case No. GS54
Starbucks Corporation was the world’s largest specialty coffee retailer, with 2005 annual revenue of $6.4 billion. Despite gigantic growth in specialty coffee in the 1990s, a worldwide oversupply of lower-grade coffee had depressed market prices in the previous few years, making it difficult for coffee farmers to earn enough revenue to cover the cost of production. By the end of 2005, Starbucks was at a challenging point in its history. It boasted more than 10,000 stores—up from 676 a decade before—and roasted 2.3 percent of the world’s coffee. Each day it opened an average of four stores and hired 200 employees. To support such a high growth rate, the company’s future success depended on a secure supply of high-quality coffee beans to meet increased demand—Starbucks had to ensure a sustainable supply of this key commodity. Starbucks partnered with Conservation International, an environmental nonprofit organization, to develop C.A.F.E. Practices (Coffee and Farmer Equity Practices). The goal was to contribute to the livelihood of coffee farmers and to ensure high-quality coffee for the long term. If Starbucks were able to overcome the issues it faced with a widespread implementation of C.A.F.E., the initiative could go a long way towards improving the sustainability of its coffee supply chain while at the same time improving Starbucks’ image as a socially responsible corporation.
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