NKG Statement on the EU Regulation on Deforestation-Free Products

24. Januar 2023

The protection of biodiversity and addressing global warming are important causes for us at Neumann Kaffee Gruppe (NKG) and central drivers for our business decisions and practices. We feel responsible for contributing our part to fighting the climate and biodiversity crises in our own operations and beyond and invite our esteemed business partners to join these efforts.

Hamburg, Germany; January 24, 2023: Sustainability and responsible conduct have always been integral to our work at NKG, as coffee connects us with people, communities, and their natural environments all over the world. Driven by this responsibility, NKG welcomes and supports the EU Regulation on deforestation-free products which is expected to be formally adopted by the European Union institutions in mid-2023. We wholeheartedly share its objective to minimize the EU’s contribution to deforestation and forest degradation with the overall goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent biodiversity loss.

In 2020, we launched the NKG Responsible Business Program (RBP) which was build on the efforts our NKG companies, especially in coffee producing countries, developed with coffee producers and customers for decades. The program sets specific goals that define responsible and sustainable business practices at NKG. Our RBP Focus Areas include, among other things, conserving the environment and strengthening transparency and ethical conduct. With the development of our supply chain programs, the Supply Chain Integrity Program (SCIP) and NKG Verified, we have set the basis for traceable supply chains, deforestation monitoring at plot level and established due diligence systems engaging our direct supplier base.

At the same time, we know that a successful implementation of the Regulation’s requirements will require strong and coordinated pre-competitive efforts within the relevant industries and among the relevant stakeholders. We have continued to grow our partnerships at industry level, rejoining the Global Coffee Platform, and actively participating in consultation processes at the European Coffee Federation including discussions on the EU Deforestation Regulation over the last two years. All these efforts served well in preparation for the implementation of the upcoming Regulation. While the Regulation reemphasizes the pivotal work to halt deforestation, the challenges to its implementation and the potential risk of negative repercussions for smallholder farmers cannot be ignored.

12.4 million of the world’s 12.5 million coffee farms are considered smallholders who make their living from coffee, often in countries with weak government structures. In many cases, these smallholders have limited or no access to the technical equipment and resources needed to meet the ambitious requirements of laws in consuming countries. Moreover, given the often small quantities of coffee produced and the long distances to the nearest point of purchase (sometimes more than a day’s journey) they rely on middlemen to market their products. These circumstances pose a serious risk that the planned regulation will exclude smallholders from the market, forcing them to abandon the coffee business as a livelihood.

Ensuring that coffee is an attractive business opportunity for smallholder farmers is the key aim of the services, including training, inputs, market access and financing, we provide under our initiative NKG Bloom. We therefore welcome the intention of the European Union to support coffee producing countries ensuring that the interest of indigenous communities and smallholders are taken into consideration.

NKG recognizes its central, yet relatively humble position and function, in the coffee supply chain and will do our utmost to ensure that consumers in the European Union can still enjoy their cup of coffee, and smallholder producers can continue to rely on their coffee trees to contribute to their families’ livelihoods without contributing to deforestation. For our trusted suppliers and valued customers, industry partners and market participants, we are available at all times for discussion and will keep you posted as we move forward.

Neumann Kaffee Gruppe (NKG) is a globally operating green coffee service group, focusing on coffee only. In more than 50 companies in 26 countries, more than 3,000 highly skilled employees are active in the sectors Export & Milling, Import, Farming, Agents & Representative Offices, and Services.