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Starbucks denies coffee report, Nestle says sorry JAKARTA - Giant multinational coffee-shop chain Starbucks denied a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) allegation Thursday that it purchased illegally-planted coffee in Lampung province, while Switzerland-based food producer Nestle said it regretted buying the beans. Ratih Gianda, head of investor relations for PT Mitra Adi Perkasa, Starbucks' Indonesian partner, said in a written statement sent to The Jakarta Post that the WWF report alleging that Starbucks had bought illegally-planted coffee from the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in southern Sumatra was inaccurate.

The statement said that Starbucks only purchased arabica coffee from Sumatra, which was grown legally in the northern part of the island. It added that Starbucks had never sourced robusta, the coffee species referred to in the WWF report, from Sumatra. Brata T. Hardjosubroto, head of public relations for Nestle Indonesia, said his company had been unaware that the coffee Nestle purchased from Lampung was illegally planted.

"Nestle never willingly purchases coffee from dubious sources. However, the company admits the difficulty of determining the precise origin of a coffee bag which has passed through different hands before it reaches the Nestle buyer." According to Brata, Nestle purchases between 11,500 and 12,000 tons of coffee beans from Lampung each year to make instant coffee. He said Nestle had entered into discussions with WWF on how to avoid purchasing illegally grown coffee, and how to boost production of sustainably grown coffee and to restore wildlife habitats in the national park.

Nestle also said it hoped the Indonesian authorities would issue a regulation clarifying the precise origin of coffee grown in the region. Suherman Harsono, chairman of the Indonesian Lampung Coffee Exporters Association, said that the members of his association could not determine if some of the coffee beans they bought were grown illegally in protected forests, although he said he was aware that many farmers grew coffee in such conservation areas.

"The government needs to be stricter in dealing with illegal practices inside the national park." "To date, there have been no mechanisms available to differentiate between illegal and legitimate beans. However, the authorities must know more about this than us, as we only buy the beans from local traders," he said. He said that the association would forge closer cooperation with the local government's plantation agency, forestry agency, economic affairs agency, and trade and cooperatives agency to prevent the possible rejection of Lampung's coffee exports.

According to Suherman, annual average domestic coffee consumption stood at around 150,000 tons, while last year Indonesia exported 258,000 tons of fourth grade coffee beans at a price of US$1,200-1,300 per ton. The quality of beans are ranked grade one to six. Indonesia is the world's fourth-largest coffee producer and exporter, and second-largest producer of robusta. About 70 percent of Indonesia's coffee exports come from South Sumatra, Bengkulu and Lampung.

The WWF reported that about 15,000 local farmers worked illegally inside the park, cultivating 45,000 hectares of conserved land to grow more than 19,600 tons of coffee. Their illegal activities had destroyed about 20 percent of the forest. Seventy percent of the 365,800-hectare Bukit Barisan Selatan national park is located in Lampung, while the rest is in Bengkulu province. It is home to a number of critically endangered species, including populations of approximately 40 Sumatran tigers, 500 Sumatran elephants and between 60 and 85 Sumatran rhinoceroses.



Posted in Environment @ 19 January 2007 10:07 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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