Kirin helps Vietnam coffee farms get sustainability certification
Japanese beverage maker Kirin Holdings is helping coffee farmers in Vietnam obtain a sustainability certification from an international NGO. (Source photos by Reuters)
JUNYA HEMMI, Nikkei staff writer | Japan
TOKYO — Japanese beverage company Kirin Holdings is stepping up support for coffee growers in Vietnam, as it looks to cash in on growing consumer demand for sustainable products.
The company is training farmers in sustainable production methods, including soil management, helping them obtain certification from an international accreditation organization that promotes sustainable farming. The company aims to extend support to farms in 700 locations, double the current figure, by the end of the year.
Kirin Holdings foresees growing sales of sustainably produced food and beverages as consumer awareness of the United Nations sustainable development goals increases. The farmer training effort is also aimed at securing a steady supply of inputs for its products.
Kirin helps Vietnamese coffee growers get certification from the Rainforest Alliance, a U.S.-based nongovernmental organization. To be certified, farmers must not only refrain from using excessive amounts of agrochemicals and work to protect biodiversity but also enhance production efficiency and quality, and improve conditions for farmworkers.
Since last year, Kirin has supported 350 Vietnamese coffee farms, helping growers conserve water, protect rivers from pollution and introduce better cultivation methods for areas with low sunlight. Vietnam is the world’s second-largest coffee bean producer after Brazil. Vietnamese coffee represents about 30% of the ingredients Kirin uses in its products, such as canned coffee beverages. One issue for the company has been the fluctuating output among Vietnam’s many small coffee growers.
By assisting these farmers, Kirin aims to improve the quality of its own products and ensure steady production.
Thanks to increased consumer awareness, sales of beans certified by the Rainforest Alliance grew sharply around the world last year, rising 15% from the previous year. But Vietnam’s production of certified coffee beans is only about 10% that of Brazil, the top grower.
Kirin has been working with Sri Lankan tea farmers to gain Rainforest Alliance certification since 2013. The company hopes to apply know-how gained in Sri Lanka to coffee farms in Vietnam to increase the number of certified Vietnamese growers.