Frequently asked questions
International Coffee Partners was founded in April 2001 as a joint initiative of the coffee roasting companies Luigi Lavazza S.p.A. (Italy), Löfbergs Lila AB (Sweden), Gustav Paulig Ltd. (Finland) and Tchibo GmbH (Germany) and the green coffee service group Neumann Gruppe (Germany). In 2011, Joh. Johannson Kaffe AS of Norway joined the partnership and since 2014, Franck d.d. of Croatia is part of the group. Additional support comes from the roaster Peter Larsens Kaffe A/S (Denmark).
Global awareness about the world’s environment as well as the living and working conditions of the people in agricultural commodity business in developing countries is rising. ICP therefore recognises the importance of introducing practical aspects of sustainability into the coffee sector. This is done by well-defined and thoroughly implemented projects in selected countries; which are designed in a way that serve as examples which can be adapted and multiplied in other regions. A clear business approach helps to strengthen the farmers’ organisational and managerial skills as well as to improve their social well-being.
It is precisely sustainable coffee production that ICP is promoting in developing countries through its project work. ICP understands sustainability to be a dynamic concept that achieves economic viability while enhancing social conditions as well as protecting the environment and natural resources. Aware of the need to further develop and gradually improve the concept of sustainability, ICP strives to continuous learning and would like to share its experience with interested parties.
While the global discussion on how to improve the overall situation of the coffee sector continues, several international initiatives are working on the sustainability of coffee. It is obvious that these strategic discussions have to be complemented by practical project work in order to directly improve the situation of farmers and their families. ICP projects generate best practice and the necessary know-how to foster development processes with the possibility to extend them to other regions.
ICP contributes technical assistance based on its core competences, including project design, preparation and implementation as well as monitoring. The initiative offers professional coffee know-how and financing of specific components. National and international experts share their experience according to specific requirements. ICP actively coordinates support from other dedicated partners such as donor organisations, NGOs and governmental institutions.
Central to all projects is the orientation towards sustainable production and processing schemes. Our projects offer technical assistance in coffee growing and diversification of production, in capacity building of farmer organisations and of farmer owned companies, in processing and marketing, as well as in activities to improve the infrastructure in the communities of coffee producers. We are aware of the importance of protecting children and rejects child labour (ILO Convention 182: Worst Forms of Child Labour). An important element of our vision is to sustainably improve the living conditions of smallholder farmers and their families. It is therefore indispensable to thoroughly address the issue of child labour and human rights within the project's scope. Children are our future. This is why we strive to support their education and development while advocating the assurance of school attendance and preventing their exposure to hazardous or heavy work. Also, the situation of farm workers and day labour is observed and the full respect of human rights promoted within our projects.
The International Coffee Partners are neither a sustainability standard nor is the certification of coffee production per se a focus of project work. As the importance of certification in the international market increases, however, our projects familiarise farmers with widely accepted sustainability standards and support them in the assessment of costs and benefits of certification. Through our projects, the farmers are well prepared for potential certification. Training on data collection and the use of Internal Control Systems is the common method in our projects and enables farmers and farmer organisations to comply with the requirements of inspections and audits. So far, beneficiaries of our projects have been certified under the standards for Organic Coffee Production, Utz Certified, Rainforest Alliance, Starbucks CAFÉ Practices and 4C.
The difficult situation of smallholder farmers and their families is usually rather complex and encompasses aspects other than coffee production. Thus, we prefer to cooperate within partnership schemes with other supporting organisations. These schemes help to establish synergies and assure a more comprehensive support for farmer families. The involved organisations have national or international character as well as governmental and non-governmental legal status. Therefore, all projects are realised within Public Private Partnership schemes.
Our project support is usually provided over a 3 to 5 year period. Despite this relatively short period, sustainable project impact is achieved for several reasons: the project target groups are strongly committed to developing their self-help capacity and therefore take maximum advantage of ICP’s technical assistance; ICP’s support offers excellent expertise which focuses on observed shortcomings and draws upon rich experience from all coffee producing continents; and last but not least, through our project work, farmer organisations develop over time their own network and partnerships with public institutions and the private sector.
ICP wants to make a difference through its projects. They are designed to be innovative while linking business orientation to sustainable development. Smallholder farmer organisations are supported in a way to ensure their self-managed, active participation in the market. It is intended that the projects generate concrete results and positive experiences to be replicated in other areas.
Since project areas are mostly located in less developed rural areas, local authorities are rather supportive towards our activities, which are business and hands-on orientated. Often governments are supporting the projects in financial terms and by assigning local experts.
In view of its longstanding experience in coffee related development projects, the Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung was entrusted by the International Coffee Partners to follow up all its operative activities including project identification, preparation, implementation and coordination with the project partners.