Nearly half the coffee consumed in the Netherlands sustainably produced

Sustainable coffee's market share has risen rapidly in recent years, and today nearly half of the coffee consumed in the Netherlands is produced in a sustainable way. Rather than consumers, supermarkets and coffee roasteries were behind this rapid growth, according to research by Paul Ingenbleek and Machiel Reinders reported in this month's Journal of Business Ethics.

Max Havelaar coffee was the first fair trade product from the global market to find its way into supermarkets in the Netherlands. When it was introduced in 1989, market researchers predicted it would earn a 15 percent market share, but for years the Max Havelaar / Fair Trade share did not exceed three percent.

From 1997 onwards, however, the market share of sustainable coffee has grown rapidly, to 45 percent this year. The coffee roasteries and supermarkets, driven by market forces, were behind this growth rather than consumers, say Ingenbleek and Reinders.

When sustainable coffee was introduced, the average consumer had a vague notion that the quality of sustainable products was acceptable, and when companies started to offer it they went along with the choice of the companies, rewarding them by remaining faithful to their brand.

coffee beans

Meanwhile consumption of sustainable coffee continues to grow. In 2015, three quarters of the coffee consumed in the Netherlands will be sustainable, following an agreement reached by coffee roasting companies and supermarkets with community organisations.

Source: Wageningen University

Carly Blair


Carly Blair



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