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Starbucks Engages Stakeholders on its Coffee Purchasing Guidelines

Published 03-12-04

Submitted by Starbucks Corporation

SEATTLE, WA - Starbucks Coffee Company (Nasdaq: SBUX) hosted more than 20 organizations on February 27 to solicit constructive feedback from stakeholders on its revised Coffee Sourcing Guidelines and Preferred Supplier Program. The Guidelines and Program are an innovative approach by Starbucks to promote the sustainability of quality green coffee and the social, economic and environmental sustainability of coffee farmers.

"Starbucks gathered feedback from a variety of sources, including some who have been critical of our business practices in the past," said Dub Hay, senior vice president, Coffee, Starbucks Coffee Company. "We consider our Coffee Sourcing Guidelines a work in progress and this input will help Starbucks continue to strengthen the program in a way that is relevant to coffee producers and suppliers."

A broad range of organizations, including non-profits, governmental agencies, coffee trade associations, suppliers and groups with an interest in sustainable coffee production attended the session in Seattle. Representatives of Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International, TechnoServe, Oxfam America, TransFair USA, US AID, Conservation International, and others provided comment on the program including its social standards, verification methods and environmental considerations. SustainAbility, a consultancy specializing in business strategy and sustainable development, facilitated the stakeholder session.

"We appreciate the sincere and candid comments of each of the stakeholders and recognize that we all have the same objective - bettering the lives of coffee farmers and their communities through sustainable means," said Orin Smith, president and ceo of Starbucks Coffee Company. "With the release of the revised guidelines later this spring, we hope others in the coffee industry will utilize the program to adapt or create a sustainability model that is appropriate for their business and supply chain."

Starbucks launched a pilot of its Coffee Sourcing Guidelines in November 2001 with the assistance of The Center for Environmental Leadership in Business, a division of Conservation International. The guidelines encourage a sustainable approach to high-quality coffee production and contain economic, environmental, and social criteria that producers are asked to adopt. Farmers who meet specific criteria and submit to independent verification can qualify to be a Starbucks Preferred Supplier. Starbucks plans to launch the next phase of the program in spring.

"Starbucks has come a very long, and creative, way in trying to figure out how to apply sourcing guidelines to a complex supplier system," said Stephen Coats, Executive Director of the U.S./Labor Education in the Americas Project. "I express my appreciation to Starbucks for taking the risk of including several outside critics in the meeting. It was a unique experience and I hope to continue the active engagement and dialogue about the guidelines in the future."

As an acknowledged leader in the specialty coffee industry, Starbucks wishes to be known not only for its high quality coffee and commercial success, but for its commitment to origin country farmers and their families. Starbucks business practices are based on the company's longstanding guiding principles and underscore the importance of applying the highest standards to coffee purchasing, treating people with respect and dignity, and contributing positively to its communities and environment. For many years, Starbucks has collaborated with a number of farms on social projects that help improve the quality of life for farm workers, their families and local community members.

Starbucks Coffee Company is the leading retailer, roaster and brand of specialty coffee in the world, with more than 7,500 retail locations in North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific Rim. The Company is committed to offering the highest quality coffee and the Starbucks Experience while conducting its business in ways that produce social, environmental and economic benefits for communities in which it does business.

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Starbucks Corporation

Starbucks Corporation

It's the way we do business Contributing positively to our communities and environment is so important to Starbucks that it's a guiding principle of our mission statement. We jointly fulfill this commitment with partners (employees), at all levels of the company, by getting involved together to help build stronger communities and conserve natural resources.

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