VIENNA, Austria – After presenting the Sustainability Record, in this interview Marcel Löffler, Julius Meinl CEO, talks about sustainability and the expansion strategies of the company. The Julius Meinl Second Sustainability Report, ‘Together We Grow’ is available to download in full. Here is the interview:
What are the guidelines for sustainable green coffee procurement, in detail?
The launch of our second Sustainability Report and the creation of a new set of guidelines for sustainable green coffee procurement by 2023, is a key example of how Julius Meinl is committed to making meaningful contributions to combat the climate crisis.
Central to our sustainability pledge is the ambition to ‘grow together’ from farmer families through to final consumer. As a fifth-generation family business ourselves, this remains at the heart of what we do, and the development of ‘green coffee’ is reliant on how we best support farmers in the orgin, through long-standing partnerships and social responsibility.
Julius Meinl has invested in robust scientific analysis of the entire coffee value chain, looking at resources, cultivation and harvesting, transport, production, distribution, and disposal, in order to help drive a long-term, collaborative stakeholder strategy.
This has led to the development of targets in our guidelines which will include: increasing our certified product portfolio in retail and HoReCa over the next year to mitigate climate impact.
It will also see us include the social and sustainable impact of the company’s tea product group in all future sustainability reporting and planning, looking at ways we can improve the social impact of the tea value chain.
Finally, we are looking to make 100% of our coffee capsules in our extensive retail portfolio, manufactured using biodegradable materials for household composting by 2022.
How do you approach sustainability standard certification?
Through our own socially responsible projects and by pushing our certified product range, we are stepping closer to a more sustainable and responsible future.
We have made great strides in ensuring that 18.2% of our purchased green coffee volume, mostly originating from Brazil, Honduras and Vietnam, meets internationally recognised sustainability standards.
This coffee is certified by Fairtrade, UTZ, or the Rainforest Alliance (RFA). All three certificates guarantee the coffee has been grown and harvested responsibly. Fairtrade additionally ensures farmers are paid fair prices for their coffee beans.
We are continually striving to improve upon this, which is why our purchasing guidelines for goods, supplies and services were revised in 2020 and rolled out in 2021 to enable more sustainable procurement through the entire coffee-line in all other relevant product categories, from machines to POS material. This is something we are continually reviewing and updating.
How is it possible to create a capsule made with biodegradable materials for household composting that is also performing and preserving quality in a cup?
Innovation is at the heart of what we do, and has been for over 160 years, from the very first time Julius Meinl offered ready-roasted coffee in his spice shop in the city of Vienna to more recent innovations, such as our 1862 Premium coffee concept. This is something that remains at the core of the business with our compostable capsule range being a direct result of this.
As we continually look to prioritise the highest standards, this range has also had to pass several quality tests. Just recently, we gained the renowned “product of the year” certification in Romania, proving our diligence was worth it.
In addition, in the assessment of the companies’ environmental impacts along the entire value chain of coffee – from farm to cup – Julius Meinl has progressed its global sourcing of compostable coffee-to-go cups and lids made of bagasse to significantly reduce packaging materials and single-use plastics.
We want to contribute to make the world a better place by taking small but meaningful steps.
Could you tell us more about your project at the origin of coffee production, such as the Columbian Heritage Programme?
As a socially responsible business where we strive to support coffee farmers in the origin and act as a responsible employer, we are proud to have launched the Columbian Heritage Project.
The project helps coffee farmers in the Tolima region of Columbia, by supplying technical expertise and financial resources to allow them to stay in business long-term and pass on their coffee growing and market knowledge to future generations.
The project is designed to increase local production efficiency and income opportunities for farmers, creating a long-term sustainable platform benefitting the community, and enabling economic empowerment.
This is one example of the civic projects Julius Meinl supports among various others, such as a recent collaboration with the Jane Goodall Institute Austria to support reforestation in Tanzania.
What’s in the “green” agenda of Julius Meinl: is there any strategy of growth and expansion, maybe focusing on the out of home or in the domestic market with new products?
Julius Meinl always has and always will, care about its people first and foremost. As a family company with five generations of coffee expertise, our values are embedded in everything we do so we can deliver premium-quality products; this has accounted for our success all these years.
In keeping with our brand’s philosophy that small moments, make big differences, our ‘green’ agenda will influence how we plan to evolve our business practices by setting new sustainability targets based on social responsibility and climate action.
Our second sustainability report, ‘Together We Grow’ demonstrates our continued progress in these areas, and we remain and we remain committed to creating products that add value to the life of our customers, employees, suppliers, and partners worldwide long into the future.
We are already the market leader in HoReCa in Austria, Romania, Russia, the Adriatics and UAE, and our plans will focus on continuing to build strong distribution in the US & China, as well as in Italy and within central Europe.
Our commitment to a sustainable future will underpin these business ambitions as every part of our operation from procurement and production to logistics and transport aligns with our green agenda targets.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we have ensured that our clear ambitions around sustainability and social responsibility have remained priority areas of focus for the business, and these plans and our progress to date are laid out in the second of our sustainability reports.