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5.7 Cocoa, coffee and tea
What sustainable agriculture policies does the company establish for the supply of private label cocoa, coffee and tea?

About the data

This metric is part of Eticonsum's research study on the evaluation of companies in the Retail Food sector on environmental, social and ethical issues.
Eticonsum is a non-profit market research agency specialising in ESG (environment, social, governance) corporate performance applied to consumer insights.
We research and analyse the ethical market in the FMCG sector and evaluate the environmental and social performance of companies in order to help both conscious consumers to decide according to their values and companies to compete on ethical reputation.

With this metric, we aim to show and compare the performance of leading retailers in Spain in sourcing the so-called high-risk crops of cocoa, coffee and tea for their own brand.

As the Fair Trade movement warns, "the large-scale production model, developed by the conventional food industry, based on large extensions of monoculture and the maximisation of short-term yields causes deforestation, desertification, soil erosion and loss of biodiversity of flora and fauna".
The most important crops that exemplify these impacts, beyond palm oil and soybeans discussed elsewhere, are cocoa, coffee and tea. These share production chains with many intermediaries and many benefits, although the first link in the chain, small farmers in southern countries, get the crumbs.

But aside from the social impact behind the cultivation of these commodities, what we consider in this section are their environmental consequences.

In the case of coffee, as the Coordinadora Estatal de Comercio Justo points out, in order to extend the crops and increase production in the short term, the felling of shade trees increases. This causes soil erosion, decreases climate regulation and hinders the maintenance of soil fertility and humidity, as well as the loss of diversity. Furthermore, this type of agribusiness model is oriented towards unshaded coffee monoculture systems that generate higher yields per hectare in the short term, but require a high use of synthetic chemicals, increase production costs and replace traditional practices.

Cocoa has similarities to coffee. Its trees need shade to grow properly. In fact, its original environment was the Mesoamerican rainforest, which naturally provides shade trees. However, in order to make land available for cocoa cultivation, it is necessary to remove some trees and often the entire forest is removed to encourage faster growth of the trees and increase their yield in the short and medium term. But as cocoa trees age, their productivity declines and they become more vulnerable to disease.

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