Coffee is sustainable, though listed in EU new regulation

Coffee is sustainable, though listed in EU new regulation

Coffee exporting sector in Brazil is sustainable and aware of new EU regulations, and ready to broaden communication with importing countries

4 minutes read

Coffee exporting sector in Brazil has been closely following up the discussions about sustainable production and changes of importing rules set by the European Union (EU).

And, recently, by the current context, there are new regulations for the import of products from deforested areas, as an attempt to curb the degradation of forests.

Though, the decision raises concerns in the coffee production segment, while the product is part of those listed, as described in the report, and mentioned by Notícias Agrícolas.

Coffee is sustainable

For years, studies have been proving that Brazilian coffee farming is sustainable.

In this regard, all 34 coffee producing regions in the country stand out for good agricultural practices.

Nonetheless, Brazilian coffee exporting sector is aware of new rules released by the EU.

Data from Brazilian Council of Coffee Exporters (Cecafé), show that, essentially, Europe accounts for more than 50% of Brazilian shipments.

Marcos Matos, Cecafé’s General Board, says that the entity understands and respects the necessary concerns from the international consumer markets. But he also sees growing worries about the positions mentioning Brazilian coffee farming. He also sees lack of reference to the respect to ESG criteria and Environmental Law, which is proper to Brazilian coffee farming.

“For instance, along later decades, Brazil’s invested in research and technology, and consequently, environmental sustainability has proven effective with reduction in 55% of coffee farming area, while productivity has increased by 400%”, he states.

And official numbers show, specially, that environmental preservation indexes surpass the demand, even from Brazilian Forest Code.

“Within coffee farming regions in Brazil, there are 51,5 Km2 in Legal Reserves (RL), native forests, Permanent Preservation Areas (APP), etc. The area corresponds, for example, to 1.25 times the size of Switzerland”, Matos explains.

New Rules

On September 13, 2022, European Parliament passed new rules, which were recently accepted by the executive authority.

In this regard, Cecafé’s General Board points that Brazilian coffee sector has been pondering actions to be taken to tackle eventual commercial or financial impacts for the country.

“We see the matter as of high priority. It demands innovative actions. Not only by questioning the law, but also by knowing how we may proactively act in terms of traceability. We’ve actually been studying on the theme. And the subject has been debated with our associates for months. It is not a recent agenda. All of this is aimed at showing that Brazilian coffee is constantly organized, innovative, and it always brings solutions, no matter which moment we face.”

Coffee farming sustainable actions

In this aspect, Matos also highlighted the project Carbon of Coffee, conducted, technically and scientifically, by the Institute for Forest and Agricultural Management and Certification (IMAFLORA), and by Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture of University of São Paulo (Esalq/USP).

The study has proven, chiefly, that coffee farming is carbon negative. In other words, it takes 10.5 tons of CO2 per hectare from the atmosphere, with the adoption of good agricultural practices.

Even in traditional production, the activity is carbon negative, taking 1.63 tons of CO2. And, as a result, Brazilian coffee is an important tool for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, reducing global warmth.  

“Before these facts, and other examples in the social area, as the confirmation that coffee farming elevates the Human Development Index (HDI) in the regions where it is present in the country, CECAFÉ is interested in exercising the synergy between lawmakers and commercial partners in Europe, with Brazilian Government and production chain, in a feasible way to absorb the sustainable reality of our production. And, consequently, we will keep on being key partners to the consumer markets committed to respecting the social environmental governance,” he concludes.

Coffee is also under the new rules

The new rules for imports may affect the trade of soybeans, coffee, meat, cocoa, wood and palm oil. By-products and manufactured goods, i.e. chocolate, paper and furniture must also be included.

It was also explained by the Commission that since the rules entry into force – which might happen in the beginning of 2023 -, operators of specific commodities will have to carry out thorough due diligence prior to insert the products in EU market.

The report states that: “These [commodities] have been proposed based on the findings in the Impact Assessment of the initiative.”

Signature took place a year after the proposal of the Commission, in 2021, and kept the main characteristics formerly proposed: to tackle deforestation, and to meet the demands for traceability.

The report also ponders that the European Parliament and the Council will have to formally adopt the new regulation before its entry into force.

And, once enforced, the operators and traders will have up to 18 months to implement the new rules.

However, the term for adaption will be longer for micro and small companies, besides other specific provisions.

According to Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-president of the European Green Deal, combating deforestation is an urgent duty.

He said that the political agreement over EU deforestation law, marks a key turning point on the global struggle against deforestation. When making the green transition in European Union, we also want to ensure our value chains are also more sustainable.

New due diligence regulation for companies

Finally, the Regulation sets mandatory due diligence rules for operators which place specific commodities on the EU market that are associated with deforestation and forest degradation.

Thus, operators and traders must prove their products are deforestation-free (produced on land deforested or degraded after 31 December 2020) and legal (according to the laws of the country of origin).

Therefore, the new rules require companies to collect the geographic coordinates of the land where the commodities they place on the market were produced.