Going beyond Corporate Social Responsibility

Posted by Paul May on 9 September 2013


As companies respond to growing consumer expectations around green credentials, businesses are looking to partnerships that bring together development know how and commercial expertise to help secure future supply, as well as offering an engaging CSR story.

Many companies are increasingly concerned that ensuring a consistent supply of quality coffee to the standard their customers expect is a medium, rather than a long-term challenge. In the past, the chief risk management strategy was to diversify supply, which seemed to make sense in global coffee supply chains. However, the impacts of climate change coupled with rising consumption and consumer expectations from a booming middle class in BRIC countries, means that demand may one day outstrip supply especially in climate sensitive, luxury commodities like coffee and cocoa.

Horsemeat scandal

Even Tesco boss, Philip Clarke, recently broke corporate ranks to concede that price rises in the UK were inevitable, saying "over the long run I think food prices and the proportion of income spent on food may well be going up… it is the basic law of supply and demand."

As the recent horsemeat scandal highlighted, food provenance is more than a good CSR claim for stakeholders or ethical credential on products – it's about managing reputational risks from nasty surprises popping up further down the supply chain. This is especially important for companies making green claims, which invite an ethical spotlight onto business practices. Knowing your suppliers and forging meaningful, long-term relationships makes good business sense in terms of ensuring reliable supply and meeting quality requirements.