Exploring future sustainability trends in the coffee industry

Janice Kanniah
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July 26, 2023
An image of a recyclable sticker, custom-printed die cut sticker on a coffee box in an article on sustainability trends in the coffee industry

In the past, the term “sustainability” was a labelling trend businesses would use without having to back up their claims. However, as awareness of the plastic waste crisis increases, the meaning behind the term has changed.

A study of sustainability-marketed products found 40% of consumers know environmental issues impact their shopping choices. Furthermore, they are willing to pay more for eco-friendly products and packaging. Another study shows there is a positive correlation between increased consumer spending and sustainable product packaging.

Despite rising inflation and living costs, customers are still prioritising products that align with their sustainability beliefs. Many view sustainability as a holistic goal that encompasses personal wellness, as well as that of the planet and society as a whole.

Products such as specialty coffee are most likely to benefit from making sustainability claims. That said, it is not enough to add these buzzwords to coffee packaging without any follow-through. Roasters and coffee shops must fully align their products with customers’ evolving attitudes and prioritisation of sustainability.

Read on to learn more about sustainability trends your coffee business could implement.

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Why should you care about sustainability trends?

Sustainability has been a priority for several industries and consumers for some time now. While many brands have paid attention to sustainability trends in earnest, others have fallen prey to greenwashing.

Greenwashing” refers to accidentally or deliberately making false or misleading claims about the environmental friendliness of a product or its packaging. Consumers have become aware of this and are actively seeking products that minimise waste, use recycled ingredients, and operate with a reduced footprint.

Beyond this, they are willing to investigate whether a product and brand live up to the sustainability buzzwords listed on packaging. Therefore, these claims must be backed up by measurable proof your business is not just using the term as a marketing vehicle.

While implementing sustainability efforts comes with short-term costs, it can result in lasting long-term financial and social success.

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Sustainability trends in coffee: What to watch

Keeping an eye on current trends in sustainable packaging, sourcing green coffee, and roasting can help keep the reputation of your business intact. 

Reduced product returns

Ecommerce can be a highly profitable platform for specialty coffee roasters, allowing them to sell coffee to customers around the world. Furthermore, it ensures ongoing sales by offering convenient coffee subscriptions and other products.

However, delays in delivery or improper packaging can result in customers receiving their orders late or in poor condition. This may result in repeated product returns, which increases shipping and packaging costs. Additionally, it means you have to spend time restocking and repackaging your coffee.

Investing in high-quality coffee packaging can prevent product damage during delivery. More so, choosing letterbox-compatible packaging can ensure the coffee is delivered directly to customers’ homes safely. You can decrease the carbon footprint of your packaging by making the outer layer reusable. Then customers can get multiple uses out of it before disposal. This decreases your packaging requirements while also engaging your customers.

For instance, you can encourage customers to send empty coffee bags back by using the same box it was delivered in.

Data collection and tracking

It is important to remember that each of your customers will have different needs. To understand what your customers want or need concerning sustainability, you will need to make decisions based on the relevant data.

Data can provide valuable insight on how to streamline operations to make them more eco-friendly. Additionally, it can help determine how to reduce the waste produced. The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has made collecting this data even easier, as it is now integrated into roasting software. 

Notably, it is essential to record the results of your sustainability efforts through formal impact measurements. This can help measure your success against your initial goals and pinpoint how to improve future sustainability efforts. Additionally, it will help you communicate that successes to customers accurately so they can continue to support you.

An image of sustainable coffee packaging, sustainable coffee bags, LDPE coffee bags, PLA coffee bags, in an article on sustainability trends in the coffee industry

Climate adaptation in coffee: A trend that is here to stay

Climate change is making coffee production less viable in many countries. It is predicted that four out of the world’s five top coffee-producing countries will see their successful growing areas decrease significantly.

Several studies suggest that by 2050, about half of the land used to grow high-quality Arabica coffee will be unproductive. This number could increase to as much as 88% for coffee farms in Latin America.

Adapting to climate change may no longer be an option as many countries are currently living with it. This has been evidenced by the increase in unseasonal rainfall, flooding, and dramatic fluctuations in global temperatures.

Prioritising climate resilience can take many forms. For roasters or café owners, it can involve choosing different suppliers or business partners. Changes in temperatures, for instance, can affect the growth of certain coffees. In turn, this affects harvest times, delays processing, and then, the transit of the final product. 

As a business owner, it is important you understand the changes that can happen along the coffee supply chain. Additionally, you must be able to mitigate them to prevent disrupting operations.

Not every trend will be compatible with your business goals or budget. However, a quick and effective way to reduce your carbon footprint is by switching to sustainable energy sources and environmentally friendly packaging. Choosing biodegradable coffee bags, for example, reduces the amount of packaging pollution your business produces.

At MTPak Coffee, we’ll help you find sustainable coffee packaging that suits your business and budget. Our range of coffee packaging options is 100% recyclable, biodegradable, or compostable. Our coffee bags are made using sustainable materials such as kraft and rice paper, as well as LDPE and PLA.

Our digital printing technique means we can customise your coffee packaging in the most eco-friendly way possible. Our services include a range of packaging finishes, including a metallic sheen or rough matte feel, as well as creative design techniques, such as embossing, debossing, and hot foil stamping.

For more information on sustainable coffee packaging, contact our team.

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