We are committed to being a company of integrity and responsibility, which includes growing a more sustainable coffee industry. As part of our active commitment, we have created two initiatives to serve the needs of coffee growers and coffee buyers around the world.

NKG Bloom is focused on
improving farmer livelihoods

Key aim: Safeguarding the future of green coffee supplies by ensuring that coffee farming is a financially viable business that can provide financial security to families.

  • Empowers farmers to run their businesses at full potential, through custom service packages that include training in coffee-farming and business best practices, plus access to markets, infrastructure, inputs and seedlings.
  • Provides easy access to short- and long-term financing, so farmers can invest in their farms and enter a pathway out of poverty.

NKG Verified is focused on
meeting key sustainability criteria

Key aim: Providing traceable coffees produced on farms that comply with specific social, environmental, and economic criteria.

  • Offers customers insights into the economic, social and environmental performance of the farms producing their coffees.
  • Provides sustainability assurance through internal and third-party audits from farm to export level.
  • Aligns with industry standards and integrates easily into customers’ sustainability plans.

Coffee Sourcing with a Purpose

What is NKG Bloom?

NKG Bloom is our initiative to ensure the future of green coffee supplies by offering smallholder farmers and farmer groups the opportunities and resources they need to run their farms at full potential, optimize their incomes for long-term success and enter pathways out of poverty.

Through dedicated teams within our export companies, NKG Bloom identifies and addresses barriers to farmer success and offers individuals and farmer groups bespoke combinations of services centered around financing.

Already changing lives in its first years of implementation, NKG Bloom’s goal is to meaningfully improve the livelihoods of 300,000 coffee-farming families across 10 countries by 2030.

Value to farmers:
  • Custom services to optimize their coffee business through access to seedlings, fertilizers, inputs, infrastructure, and trainings.
  • Accessible financing, including quick mobile financing and substantial funding for larger projects, so families can invest in long-term farm health.
  • Supporting an “inclusive sustainability” perspective so that farmers have the knowledge about practices to meet sustainable production criteria and address them effectively, to ensure a healthy and bright future of coffee.
Value to green coffee buyers:
  • An active role in supporting coffee-farming families and addressing the key issues faced by the industry.
  • The ability to take ownership of key performance metrics related to purchased coffees and share them with customers.
  • Possibility to implement special projects at origin, by building on the knowledge, networks and enthusiasm of NKG Bloom Farmer Services Units.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

For NKG exporters to set up and operate an NKG Bloom supply chain, they need to develop a country concept, establish a Farmer Services Unit, set up the Smallholder Livelihoods Facility (if applicable), develop an M&E system (including the first internal audit on sustainability criteria) and have the traceability system ready. The SBU supports the exporter throughout the process. Once ready, all documents and evidence are submitted to the Internal Board for approval and the sale of NKG Bloom Coffees can begin.

Farmers Services Units (FSUs) are permanent NKG Bloom teams set up within NKG export companies that elect to implement the initiative in their country. FSU members work closely with farmers and farmer groups to understand their needs and design custom services packages. These packages can include fertilizers, seedlings and access to markets, infrastructure, information, trainings and — critically and uniquely — quick and simple financing.

Financing is a core bottleneck faced by farmers, who often lack access to, or don’t qualify for, credit from banks or even microfinancers. Through a multi-year effort, NKG created a unique, risk-sharing credit solution with four lending organizations: DFC – U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, IDH: The Sustainable Trade Initiative, and European banks BNP Paribas and Rabobank. The resulting $25 million Smallholder Livelihoods Financing Facility makes it possible for farmers to quickly and easily borrow funds as needed.

NKG Bloom is open to smallholder farmers (those who farm 30 hectares or fewer) and farmer organizations (with members farming fewer than 30 hectares each). These farmers agree to collaborate with FSUs, to run their farms as businesses, and to improve on prioritized social and environmental practices.

In short, yes, to either the region or farmer organization level. An NKG Bloom mobile app is used by field staff to efficiently share services and information along the value chain.

In some NKG Bloom countries, farmer groups and field staff can also share digital payment information with farmers, access coffee delivery histories and pay farmers more quickly and accurately. The transition from paper records to mobile apps has created greater clarity into the participants in each coffee.

The same sustainability criteria apply for NKG Bloom as for NKG Verified. Findings on critical criteria lead to exclusion, unless they can be remediated immediately. Based on the findings NKG exporter companies jointly with the supply chain actors and supported by the Sustainable Business Unit develop improvement plans to selected criteria. The key to driving the improvements under NKG Bloom is to improve farmer livelihoods via services.

The sustainability criteria are developed following the Coffee Sustainability Reference Code. The Sustainable Business Unit (SBU) at Neumann Gruppe is responsible for the program set-up. In order to ensure that NKG Bloom meets its stated objectives, to keep the criteria up to date, to identify challenges and to make the program practical to implement, periodic reviews are conducted, at least every five years, including key inputs from stakeholder consultations.

Until today, we have reached more than 80 000 farmers with our service offer bringing us a good step closer to our target of reaching 300 000 farmers by 2030. We have distributed over 4,000mt of fertilizer in Uganda with an advance scheme building on mobile money, supported the renovation of over 5,000ha of coffee land in Mexico, provided more than half a million seedlings with long-term financing in Honduras and worked with 12 cooperatives in Kenya to bring meaningful technical assistance to their members.
Farmers who have access to knowledge can develop their skills and learn new and innovative farming techniques that are easier and more efficient to produce better results. Only by applying the right pruning and fertilization techniques, some farmers have seen yields going up 10-fold.
In the harvest 2020/21 a baseline survey organized by idh was conducted and after the next round in 2023/24 we will be able to report progress at farm level for all Bloom countries.

The assurance model for NKG Bloom comprises different levels that cover the implementation of the whole sustainable sourcing strategy:

  • Internal audits: conducted annually by the staff of the NKG exporter to assess at supply chain level the sustainability criteria as well as the provision of services and farm productivity at farm level. The SBU reviews the information and runs data quality checks.
  • Verification on internal audits: Conducted by NG Compliance annually to verify data collection and operating procedures at export level.
  • Impact evaluation: organized every three years by idh – Sustainable Trade Initiative to evaluate progress made against the Theory of Change and key performance indicators.

So, how can I learn the details relevant to my coffees?

The NKG Bloom Portal is a comprehensive web portal where NKG Bloom customers can learn about the initiative’s global efforts, participating regions, farmer groups and subgroups.

At trace.nkgbloom.coffee, they can also trace each purchased coffee to the region or farmer groups that produced it, see the service offerings being utilized by those producers and view the performance indicators tied to each coffee.

More about NKG Bloom can be found here:

Traceable coffees and sustainability compliance, delivered.

NKG Verified offers customers traceable coffees that meet key sustainability criteria. It provides visibility into identified supply chains and their performance on key economic, social and environmental indicators — all verified by a third party. With every shipment of NKG Verified coffees, customers receive an easy-to-read sustainability report detailing each indicator and how it scored, as well as the coffee’s overall sustainability score.

NKG Verified aligns with and contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that support economic growth, address social issues and enhance environmental protection.

Value to green coffee buyers:
  • Compliance with key sustainability criteria.

  • Traceability to specific supply chains.

  • Assurances through internal NKG audits and external, third-party audits.

  • Based on audit results, action plans are developed to improve the supply chains sustainability performance.

  • Easy integration into sustainable buying plans, plus the option to customize requirements.

As of December 2022, NKG Verified has reached 12,958 farmers in Mexico, India, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia and Brazil. We will continue to expand our supply chains in 2023.

Sustainability Criteria

  • Producers have records of main costs and income from coffee. Smallholders that are not able to maintain records are aware of their yields and main costs and income.
  • Producers are aware of income and main costs of non-coffee sources of household income, both on-farm and off-farm.
  • Producers and workers are trained on good agricultural practices, post harvest, handling and quality practices based on identified needs and addressing any barriers to access.
  • Producers belonging to groups are trained on good management practices including good corporate governance.
  • Producers are aware of GAP, post-harvest handling practices, good management and quality practices that can be implemented at farm level.
  • Producers are aware of the quality parameters of coffee beans.
  • Producers implement practices (Ind E.2.3 and E.2.4)
  • Gender equity and social inclusion (GESI) analysis is conducted to identify opportunities that foster gender equity and inclusion of vulnerable groups in the supply chain.
  • There is a plan and measures in place to support participation and access to opportunities for all involved in farming and management.
  • An internal inspection system is in place that includes at least a periodic self-assessment against baseline level of sustainability.
  • Producers and workers are aware of baseline practices of sustainability, in particular those related to critical practices and Human Rights.
  • The Farmer Group and the NKG Exporter maintain a complete and up-to-date list of all its members and their basic data.
  • Producers and workers being impacted negatively by the business activities an operations have the opportunity to raise complaints without being negatively affected.
  • Producers comply with relevant legal and regulatory requirements.
  • Producers have legal or customary rights to the land for farming or processing.
  • Land and water rights acquisition is carried out with free, prior and informed consent of affected people with legal land use right including those who claim traditional land use right, especially indigenous people.
  • A policy for ethical conduct is in place and implemented in all business operations and transactions.
  • The physical coffee and associated product documentation can be traced back to the immediate supplier or farmer and forwarded to the next buyer.
  • Producers are informed about local prices and price mechanism according to the quality of the coffee.
  • Producers receive prices that reflect the quality of their coffee.
  • Extension services are supporting producers towards better productivity, quality and profitability.
  • Information is regularly available to producers on practices, services, inputs, market, and climate.
  • No use of genetically modified (transgenic) organisms (GMO), and varieties in coffee production.
  • Up-to-date maps of the farm or farm area are available, including production areas, forests, water bodies and buildings.
  • No hunting or extraction of endangered species of animals and plants is practiced.
  • Producers have knowledge of techniques to maintain and control soil quality (physical, chemical and biological) and the relevant techniques are implemented.
  • Producers have knowledge of techniques to prevent soil erosion and the relevant techniques are implemented.
  • The application of synthetic fertilizer follows agronomic recommendations, is documented and if feasible reduced over time.
  • Soil and/or leaf analysis is done and documented.
  • Practices to increase fertility are in place.
  • Use of pesticides in the Phase-Out List are reduced and phased out by 2030, if feasible.
  • A plan for the application, storage and disposal of pesticides and other inputs is available and under implementation, including the identification of critical control points and risk mitigation measures.
  • Use, storage and waste disposal of pesticides and other agricultural inputs is in line with agronomic recommendations and applicable legislation.
  • Producers and workers handling or applying pesticides and other agricultural inputs are trained in proper handling (including application, storage and disposal).
  • Producers and workers handling pesticides and other agricultural inputs wear personal protection equipment.
  • Integrated pest management (IPM) techniques and measures are developed and being implemented.
  • Highly Hazardous Pesticides in use are identified and records are kept of all pesticides use, including of application doses and dates.
  • Training on IPM is provided to producers and workers and locally relevant guidance is available on non-pesticidal methods for controlling coffee pests, weeds and diseases management.
  • Water sources have been identified and are conserved by recycling, and by using reduced amounts so as not to endanger their sustainability.
  • Producers are aware of water sources which are known or considered to be in critical stage or overused. If sources are in critical stage or overused, producers engage with local stakeholders to coordinate conservation efforts.
  • Measures to reduce water use are implemented and use of water is being measured.
    In the case of smallholders, they are trained in efficient irrigation and processing where applicable.
  • Producers implement practices to minimize water pollution from chemical residues, fertilizers and erosion or other sources as per applicable national GAP programs/standards.
  • Wastewater treatment at centralized mills/washing stations meets legal wastewater quality parameters.
  • Hazardous wastewater at farm level is treated.
  • Energy use in coffee farming and processing is quantified and documented.
  • Energy use is reduced and energy efficiency is improved.
  • The use of renewable energy sources is maximized.
  • Different types of waste generated are identified for their separation, prevention and reduction.
  • Organic by-products from farming and processing are recycled and used on the farm to enhance soil fertility.
  • Hazardous wastes are identified.
  • Safe disposal is in place and according to the different types of waste.
  • Hazardous wastes are treated.
  • Producers have conducted a climate risk assessment, or are aware of the results of such an assessment.
  • Producers identify and implement measures to adapt to climate change.
  • Producers work on carbon sequestration in the soil.
  • Producers have identified main sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in coffee production and processing in order to document and reduce them in subsequent years.
  • All workers receive equal treatment in terms of hiring, remuneration and benefits, access to training and promotion.
  • Workers are free from violence and harassment or abusive treatment, including gender-based violence.
  • Producers and workers are free to form and join independent organizations to protect their interests.
  • Representatives of producers or workers have access to the information and resources necessary to carry out their functions.
  • Representatives of producers or workers are not discriminated nor adverse actions taken against them.
  • Regular consultations between employers and authorized workers’ representatives concerning working conditions, remuneration, dispute resolution, internal relations and matters of mutual concern relating to workers are taking place.
  • Results of collective bargaining are applied to workers.
  • Wages comply with existing national minimum wages or sector agreements including seasonal and piece rate workers (permanent and temporary workers).
  • Wages increase over time to reduce the gap with living wages.
  • Seasonal and piece rate workers (temporary workers) receive the same benefits as regular workers.
  • Regular working hours of workers and employees are limited to 48 per week, or less if provided by national law.
  • Overtime is voluntary (consent) and paid according to national law. Required overtime is allowed if under extraordinary conditions, agreed to and/or negotiated in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
  • Workers enjoy at least one free day following six consecutive days worked as well as public holidays and annual leave.
  • Workers understand their employment conditions and have written contractual agreements. Oral agreements are acceptable if allowed by national law.
  • Contractual agreements are respected.
  • Workers know their rights, duties and benefits.
  • Where needed, housing is provided by the employer that is clean, safe, and meets the basic needs of the workers.
  • The housing is made from appropriate construction materials, safe from hazards and pollution, providing adequate shelter.
  • Workers have access to potable water.
  • Farmers and their families have access to drinking water.
  • Toilet and handwashing facilities are clean and accessible to workers.
  • Work environment risks and hazards are identified, monitored and minimized.
  • Procedures and equipment to minimize risks and ensure healthy and safe working conditions and practices are known, implemented and monitored.
  • Workers are trained regularly on occupational health and safety practices.
  • Producers have a locally adapted and time-bound action plan to meet baseline level of sustainability.
  • Plans are regularly reviewed, progress assessed and plans adjusted as needed to drive continuous improvement.
  • Children below the age of 18 years are not engaged in work which could jeopardize their health, safety or morals.
  • Children’s participation in work is only accepted as part of light family work, outside school hours for children below 15 years old, and they are not performing hazardous work.
  • Children under the age of 15 (or legal school age as per local regulation) attend compulsory school.
  • Workers can leave their work places and/or living quarters provided by the employer.
  • Workers are not subject to debt bondage in order to pay off their own debts or those they have inherited.
  • Identity or travel documents, salary/money or other assets belonging to workers are not retained by the employer.
  • There is no loss of (natural) forests as a result of
    1) conversion to agriculture or other non-forest land use;
    2) conversion to a tree plantation; or
    3) severe and sustained degradation after 1 January 2014.
  • Areas that are assigned as legal reserve, conservation area or otherwise secured by law are protected.
  • Pesticides in the Prohibited List are not used.

The sustainability criteria are developed following the Coffee Sustainability Reference Code. The Sustainable Business Unit (SBU) at Neumann Gruppe is responsible for the program set-up. In order to ensure that NKG Verified meets its stated objectives, to keep the criteria up to date, to identify challenges and to make the program practical to implement, periodic reviews are conducted, at least every five years, including key inputs from stakeholder consultations.

According to our 2nd party assurance model, the NKG Verified criteria are assessed through annual internal audits and through third-party audits every three years on a sample of entities from farm to export level that form the supply chain. The internal audits are conducted by the staff of the NKG exporting companies. Findings on critical criteria lead to exclusion, unless they can be remediated within 60 days. Based on the findings on improvement criteria, NKG exporting companies jointly with the supply chain actors and with the support of the Sustainable Business Unit develop improvement plans.

Once both, internal and external audits are conducted and reviewed by the Sustainable Business Unit and the third-party audit decision is positive, the NKG Verified coffees from the respective chains can be offered.

Click here for the NKG Verified Claims Policy.

NKG Bloom and NKG Verified coffees

are available through our NKG importers worldwide

Neumann Kaffee Gruppe Responsible Business Program

Defining sustainability — and success.

Responsible conduct and sustainability have always been integral to our work at Neumann Kaffee Gruppe, as coffee connects people, communities and their natural environments all over the globe. Their health and wellbeing are fundamental for our long-term success. In 2020, the NKG Board of Management initiated the creation of a Responsible Business Program, in order to more intentionally define NKG’s objectives in these areas, as well as its commitments to meeting them.

Ultimately, a cooperative effort between the Board and colleagues in departments across NKG identified four focus areas, along with nine supporting strategic sub-objectives.

NKG Bloom addresses focus area 3, “Producers”, and contributes to Objective 6: “Improve farmer livelihoods through value-added services.”

NKG Verified addresses focus area 2, “Supply chains”, as well as Objective 4: “Enhance sustainability performance within our supply chains.”

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