Towards a Sustainable Coffee Market? Paradoxes Faced by a Multinational Company

Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, Forthcoming

16 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2011

See all articles by Ans Kolk

Ans Kolk

University of Amsterdam Business School

Abstract

This article examines the case of sustainable coffee as faced by Sara Lee’s International Coffee and Tea Division (SL), asking which strategic direction the company should take considering its regulatory, competitive and societal contexts. More than a decade after sustainable coffee became a strategic issue for SL, emerging public purchasing guidelines seem to exclude the ‘mainstream-market’ policy of the company and instead favour the Fairtrade standard that embodies a niche approach. The article presents the strategic, organisational and marketing dimensions, in their international supply-chain and industry dynamics. It raises the question what it means for a large, mainstream multinational company to move to sustainability when the issues at hand are very complex, consumer awareness is limited and the market for sustainable coffee is not mature yet. Several strategic options are presented, each with their pros and cons, as input for further discussion and research on the paradoxes related to sustainability and international business.

Keywords: Coffee, sustainability, strategy, marketing, supply chain, fair trade

JEL Classification: D21, F23, G38, J54, L2, L31, L66, M1, M14, M31, N50, O13, Q13, Q17, Q18

Suggested Citation

Kolk, Ans, Towards a Sustainable Coffee Market? Paradoxes Faced by a Multinational Company. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1857574

Ans Kolk (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam Business School ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.anskolk.eu

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