Our history – an effort of creating a new approach towards sustainability
In the 1990s, the decade after the collapse of the ICO (International Coffee Organization) quota system the volatility of the bean’s price reaches intolerable proportions. The extremely low and unstable coffee prices are contributing to severe poverty in many countries, threatening the sustainability of the coffee business in all of its stages.
After state control mechanisms had failed, many European entrepreneurs started looking for new approaches.
The challenge: how to intervene without undermining free markets, but instead contribute to the growth of forward looking entrepreneurship on all levels in the producing countries?
Michael R. Neumann invited the coffee families Lavazza of Torino, Löfberg of Karlstad, Paulig of Helsinki and Herz of Hamburg. Sharing core values, these families pioneered a highly innovative concept by forming a democratic joint not-for-profit corporate venture. In 2001, we were formally established as the International Coffee Partners GmbH.
Our objective is to sustainably support smallholder coffee farmers in creating a win-win situation between them and consumers worldwide. A unique aspect of this concept is the endeavour to pool the resources of all of our shareholders, consolidating both know-how and finances to make a long-term commitment.
In the following years, three other national champion coffee roasters joined as shareholders: the families Johannson of Oslo, Artuković of Zagreb and the Nabeiro family of Campo Maior.
In 2010, we jointly initiated addressing challenges posed by changing climatic conditions. Together with GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), we were the driving force in the creation of the initiative for coffee & climate (c&c).
Our vision reaches far beyond the implementation of individual development projects.
We want to contribute to the sustainable transformation of the coffee sector in regions and countries, and dedicate both passion as well as financial means to achieve their objective. And are proud to see that we have grown to be a public-private partnership with both local and international partners funding our long-term success.
“At Löfbergs, sustainable development in the coffee sector has always been a priority, it is business sense, we cannot do business in an industry that isn’t sustainable in the long run. So therefore, in the early 2000s, we identified the potential of change that we could make by joining forces with like-minded companies. With International Coffee Partners we enable long-term changes in the sector, and particularly for smallholder farming families. Sustainability efforts in our own supply chain is of course essential, but growing beyond single organizations and forming a sector-wide initiative shows our dedication and commitment to our vision: improving the livelihoods of coffee farming families worldwide in a long-term perspective.”
Kathrine Löfberg, Chairperson of the Board of the International Coffee Partners