I. Starbucks & Conservation International - Introduction & Background
Today Starbucks is more than a coffee chain and Conservation International is hardly a household name. Through its efforts, Starbucks has transformed into a location where friends to catch up, colleagues can have impromptu meetings, and others simply get their coffee fix for the day. Thinking back to Starbuck’s humble beginnings, they only sold roasted coffee blends, tea, and spices. Howard Shutlz had the vision to transform Starbucks into more than just a coffee house –a destination where espresso, food, and merchandise would be sold sold as well. It wasn’t until he was able to buy out Starbucks and take over the Starbucks brand that his vision was able to become a reality. Over the next ten years Shultz initiated an aggressive expansion program where Starbucks boasted “more than 4,000 stores in the U.S. alone, not to mention over 1,500 stores internationally” (Austin & Revis, 2004). With such an assertive move in the market, Shultz had to consider environmental ramifications that his business had as well in order to please environmentalists who had been keeping a watchful eye on it throughout this expansion phase. The cold hard truth is that advocates are going to target the biggest and most visible company that they think has an impact on whatever issue they are most concerned with. That is where Conservational International came into the picture.
Conservational International is a non-profit organization that aims to protect the environment. They strove to help protect the planet in the biggest way possible. The following sections describe the positive relationship that Starbucks and Conservational International were able to create from a new farming pilot-program in central Mexico.
II. Situation Analysis of the World Coffee Market
Starbucks Social Responsibility
Starbucks didn’t mess around when it came to their commitment to social responsibility. Their budget grew from $50,000 to $6 million in less than ten years. Shultz firmly believed that “in order to be successful a company needed to not only sell a high quality product, but they needed to be conscious of social, economic, and environmental issues as well” (Austin & Revis, 2004). During Starbuck’s expansion, the value of coffee beans went down and forced farmers into questionable practices to try to remain profitable. This created scarcity of high quality beans in the farming community and presented a problem for Starbucks to maintain its superior coffee. This also meant that there were unknown health hazards involved with new chemical farming techniques that no one knew much about. To help ensure that Starbucks’ stores sold the highest quality coffee possible, they insisted that samples of the harvest were sent for tasting prior to purchasing it. If it passed the first inspection, then the beans are then sent to the United States where they are tested a second time to further ensure their quality and freshness. On the surface it appeared as though Starbucks had their procurement practices under control, but it wasn’t until the rise of the environmentally conscious corporations came into the picture in 1999 that better practices truly started to emerge in the coffee growing industry.
Conservation International’s Impact
Conservation International’s mission is to “conserve the Earth’s natural living habitat as well as its biodiversity so that humans can live harmoniously with nature” (Austin & Revis, 2004). Conservation International focused on “hot-spots”, as they call it, that are composed of the highest concentration of plant and animal species found. The fact that twenty-five million acres of rainforest was displaced due to coffee plantations peaked their interest. Thus these plantations became a source of focus for Conservation International’s conservation efforts to make the biggest difference through its...