· 4C Partners with Simexco, IDH – the Sustainable Trade Initiative, and JDE for Reducing Coffee GHG Emissions in Vietnam

Four partners combine their forces to improve the environmental footprint of coffee production in Vietnam and make a valuable contribution to the global combat against climate change

Climate change has a vastly negative impact and is caused, among others, by the increasing amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the atmosphere with agriculture as one of the main GHG emitters. Coffee production is no exception here: application of fertilizers and pesticides, deforestation and soil degradation, energy-consuming machines as well as inefficient wastewater management are considered the biggest GHG emission sources in the green coffee bean supply chain.

Measurement of GHG emissions provides an opportunity to address this problem by conducting a scientific and comprehensive evaluation of a farm’s potential to reduce its climate change impact. Having GHG information at hand makes it is possible to proceed to the next step and develop an appropriate and viable action plan to reduce, inset, and offset GHG emissions in the green coffee bean supply chain.

“What is the actual carbon footprint of a green coffee bean? How can we feasibly calculate it and what are the limitations? After thorough considerations, we developed a new approach to GHG emissions measurement and started looking for partners ready to test it with us, thus, supporting the development of a scalable robust tool, ” – Norbert Schmitz, Managing Director, 4C Services GmbH.

In 2020, 4C partnered with Simexco Dak Lak Ltd (SMC), major Vietnamese coffee exporter, in a pilot project in cooperation with IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, and Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE) to calculate GHG emissions in coffee production. The process involves multiple stages, such as supply chain mapping, filling in and analyzing data templates as well as setting up the first calculator draft. Based on the calculation results, corresponding measures will be developed to reduce and mitigate GHG emissions.

“This partnership is one more step in JDE’s commitment to work continuously toward 100 % responsibly sourced coffee and tea by 2025,” said JDE’s sustainability manager in Asia and the Pacific, Do Ngoc Sy. “In addition to IDH’s foundational support, we are pleased to benefit from 4C’s expertise in calculating carbon emissions in coffee production, which is essential for us to calibrate our efforts and reach our sustainability goal.”

Tran Quynh Chi, Regional Director Asia Landscape, IDH – The Sustainable Trade Initiative also emphasized: “Calculating carbon emissions in coffee supply chain of Simexco Dak Lak brings added value to our pilot of large-scale sourcing areas in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.” She added: “We need in-depth calculation and analysis to know how it helps farmers increase their profitability and transform the coffee sector from a source of carbon emission to a sink. With this partnership, we are moving in the right direction to start from a small scale pilot to larger scale application of the methodology”.

This project is an important milestone for 4C on its way to establishing a “4C Climate Friendly” Add-On to the certification standard. “European consumers become more and more concerned with environmental footprint of products they buy. We developed additional logo to enable coffee producers, traders, brand owners and roasters to indicate their efforts to improve their GHG footprint, – says Norbert Schmitz.

Interested in measuring carbon footprint of your coffee? Contact us via info@4c-services.org.

About IDH

IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, brings governments, companies, CSOs and financiers together in action driven coalitions. We orchestrate the powers of law, of entrepreneurship and investments to work together to create solutions for global sustainability issues at scale. We work in multiple sectors and landscapes in Africa, Asia and Latin America with over 600 companies, CSOs, financial institutions, producer organizations and governments towards sustainable production and trade. Read more at www.idhsustainabletrade.com.

About JDE

For more than 265 years we have been inspired by our belief that it is amazing what can happen over a cup of coffee. Today our portfolio is available in over 100 countries through iconic brands including: Jacobs, Tassimo, Moccona, Senseo, L’OR, Douwe Egberts, Super, Kenco, Pilao & Gevalia. Learn more at www.jacobsdouweegberts.com.

About Simexco

Simexco Dak Lak Ltd (SMC), a state-owned company founded in 1993, is recognized as one of the leading coffee exporters of Vietnam, the largest Robusta producing country in the world. Annual exports of SMC range from 1,3 to 2 million bags (60 kg) of coffee, representing 8% of coffee production in Vietnam. Since joining 4C in 2010, SMC has involved 4605 farmers whose farms were selected for improvement of agricultural and fair trade practices and to create a sustainable coffee community. More information under www.simexcodl.com.vn/.

Since joining the 4C program in 2010, major Vietnamese coffee exporter Simexco Dak Lak Ltd (SMC) has involved 4605 farmers first in the 4C verification and then, starting from 2018, the certification system. The participating farms, which were selected for the improvement of agricultural and fair trade practices and to create a sustainable coffee community, are located in SMC’s main sourcing areas: the communes of Eakao, Buon Trap, Eatan, Eatoh, DlieYang, Ea Hiao, Eadrong in Dak Lak Province, Vietnam’s Central Highlands.

Founded in 1993, Simexco Dak Lak Ltd (SMC) has built a dynamic purchasing network directly from the farm gates and plantations and invested in modern coffee processing factories and staff capacity building. Implementation of the sustainability criteria towards more responsible coffee production set by the 4C Code of Conduct contributed to the improved production methods and better farmer livelihoods.

SMC’s Sustainable Team highlights that “since joining 4C, SMC has seen positive impacts on farmers’ lives with regards to economic, social, and environmental aspects”. They are optimistic about future development, recalling the progress achieved so far: “the general awareness of farmers has greatly improved. Today farmers are confident about applying fertilizers according to the usage criteria and handling pesticide bottles and containers properly to prevent harming the environment. They have successfully applied good agricultural practices on their coffee farms and already experience multiple advantages of sustainable farming.”

Water conservation

Coffee farmers in SMC’s main sourcing areas have to water their crops four to five times per season. According to the original irrigation method, each turn used about 600 liters of water per tree, not only wasting this valuable natural resource but also requiring significant human effort. With the help of a water meter, farmers are now able to measure the amount of water just enough for each irrigation session, which results in water savings of about 30% compared to the previous irrigation method. Besides, farmers can apply fertilizer through the irrigation system to save time and labor, to reduce farming costs and fertilize regardless of the weather.  New water storage ponds have also helped farmers to alleviate the problem of irrigation during the dry season and contributed to improved farmers’ livelihoods by offering opportunities for fish and seafood farming.

Gender equality

In the past, men mainly managed household finances and participated in training sessions.  However, within the framework of the 4C program, farmers started participating in trainings on gender equality and female empowerment. Women now work on the farm together with their husbands. They have appropriate financial management plans, directly participate in trainings with the rate up to 50%, have additional access to technologies, and are able to further self-learning and sharing from each other. Women actively voice their opinions and raise issues for discussion together. Trainings have also increased men’s ability to take responsibility for childcare, housework and household management.

Improving the environment and economy

The farming environment has also been significantly improved with balancing the microclimate in the garden through the intercropping of coffee and other crops, resulting in improved farmer income through years of participating in the sustainable coffee production program. The increased environmental and social consciousness of farmers participating in the 4C program also has a positive spillover effect, affecting non-program farmers and contributing to their motivation to engage in the more sustainable production of coffee as well.

“4C is proud to support Vietnamese farmers and delighted to see how Simexco Dak Lak is driving sustainability in coffee production,” says Viet Ha Nguyen, Sustainability Manager in Asia and Oceania, 4C Services GmbH.


About Simexco

Simexco Dak Lak Ltd, a state-owned company founded in 1993, is recognized as one of the leading coffee exporters of Vietnam, the largest Robusta producing country in the world. Annual exports of Simexco Daklak range from 1,3 to 2 million bags (60 kg) of coffee, representing 8% of coffee production in Vietnam. More information under www.simexcodl.com.vn/.

About 4C

4C is the largest certification system for the sustainable cultivation and processing of coffee. 4C coffee is produced in 24 countries by more than 400.000 farmers. This covers a total green coffee production of 26,8 million bags (60 kg) on 970 thousand hectares of farm area.[1] Independent third-party audits, conducted by auditors of 23 certification bodies cooperating with 4C, ensure farmer compliance with the sustainability criteria of the 4C standard. More information under www.4c-services.org.

[1] Year of reference: 2019.

GCP’s snapshot provides insights into sustainable coffee purchases of the leading roasters – 4C certified coffee has the largest reported share

Five leading roasters, Nestlé, JDE, Melitta, Supracafé, and Strauss Coffee, reported their sustainable coffee purchases within the framework of GCP’s “Call to Action to Collectively Address the Coffee Price Crisis”.

GCP has launched a reporting system to encourage open and transparent discussion on sustainable coffee sourcing. The above mentioned roasters demonstrated their unprecedented commitment in revealing their companies’ data to demonstrate their progress.

In total 1,79 million mt of green coffee was purchased, out of which 639,710 mt, or more than 30%, were purchased in line with GCP-recognized sustainability schemes. The majority of reported coffee purchases, or 65.6%, were 4C certified, followed by 12% purchased as 4C-RA double certified[1]. Estimated production of 4C coffee in 2018 was 2.1 million mt with Vietnam, Brazil, and Colombia among the top three origins.

Certification is a vital part of a robust sustainability strategy in the coffee sector. Roasters continue working with sustainability standards in combination with developing their programs, projects, and participating in multi-stakeholder sustainability initiatives.

As highlighted in Melitta’s statement, “only a combination of measures along the value chain, like collaboration with Voluntary Sustainability Standards (e.g. Rainforest Alliance, 4C and Fairtrade), systemic approaches for sustainable regions, qualification and community projects in key coffee grow­ing regions as well as sector engagement, e.g. in GCP, will lead to sustainable success for coffee.”

Another example is Strauss Coffee which focuses on its in-house “More than a Cup” program to support specific themes in gender equality and women empowerment, “while continuing to use 4C as our reliable mainstream certification service“.

We at 4C appreciate roasters‘ efforts towards making the coffee sector more sustainable and hope that companies will increasingly source certified coffee in the future and further support on the ground projects to improve farmer livelihoods. In the meantime, we are determined to make sure that there is a sufficient supply of genuinely sustainable coffee.

[1] Phase-out of Rainforest Alliance certificate recognition was launched in April 2020. For more information, please see System Update No. 5, 6 April 2020, here.

Further Information – Downloads and Links:

The online seminar “Sustainability news in coffee”, organized by the German Coffee Association, aims at sharing the latest news on coffee and sustainability. 7 presentations will give a 360-degree overview of the developments in the past six months. The topics cover green coffee price volatility during Corona, mobile devices for knowl dge transfer, certification, design of sustainable supply chains, and much more. Dr. Norbert Schmitz, the Managing Director of 4C Services GmbH, will provide useful insights on behalf of 4C on practical solutions for sustainable supply chains.

The event targets exclusively members of the German Coffee Association. To learn more about the online seminar, its program, and speakers, as well as to register, please follow this link.

How Does the Coffee Supply Chain Become Good for People and the Environment?

Discussion on the introduction of the Supply Chain Act* was sparked at both the German and European level. How could this law be possibly implemented? This is the main question that triggered the critical online dialogue on 15 September 2020, organized by Welthungerhilfe. Concrete approaches from the coffee sector will be presented in four keynotes on the topics of protection of the human right to food, certification, use of remote sensing for the documentation of coffee sites, and empowerment.

The keynote speakers are Nanda Bergstein, Director Corporate Responsibility, Tchibo; Dr. Rafaël Schneider, Coordinator of the FSS Project, and Deputy Director Policy Department at Deutsche Welthungerhilfe e. V.; Dr. Jan Henke, Managing Director of GRAS System and Dr. Norbert Schmitz, Managing Director of 4C Services GmbH.

To see the detailed agenda and register, please click the link below. The event will be conducted in German. Registration is open until 13 September 2020. Register here.

Further Information – Downloads and Links:

In a joint statement, 33 stakeholders of the Sustainable Agricultural Supply Chain Initiative [1], among them 4C, have committed themselves to the Supply Chain Act.

“We pledge our support to the German government for a national supply chain law and an ambitious European regulation.”

The Supply Chain Act lays out the responsibilities of German companies with regards to their supply chains and envisions obliging companies to take a proactive approach against human rights and environmental violations. This act will be soon proposed to the German parliament.

Actively supporting the Supply Chain Act signifies the willingness to take responsibility together with the German government to make an effort and do whatever is in one’s power to establish more sustainable and transparent supply chains.

To read more and download the statement, please follow the link.

[1] The Sustainable Agricultural Supply Chain Initiative (INA) brings together numerous actors from the private sector, civil society, and politics. Together they want to achieve more sustainability in global agricultural supply chains and improve farmer living conditions.

A special web-training on biodiversity in agriculture and coffee cultivation with specific reference to the 4C requirements by the Food & Biodiversity Initiative provides a unique opportunity for Managing Entities of 4C Units and 4C auditors to learn about the importance of biodiversity conservation, how to develop biodiversity action plans and successfully implement them.

Biodiversity has been gaining increasing importance over the last decades and its loss gradually turned into one of the biggest challenges of our time, in particular in the agricultural sector. Improving biodiversity performance not only serves nature protection, but also is the basis for sustainable, successful, and climate change resilient coffee production.

This is a reason, why the 4C Code of Conduct v.4.0 requests an action plan to protect and restore high biodiversity areas, natural vegetation, fauna, soil and water resources, and sensitive areas as well as the implementation of climate adaptation and mitigation measures, among others. With the growing interest in biodiversity protection on the consumption side, coffee producers can additionally strengthen their market position, if they develop a strategic approach to biodiversity.

To additionally support 4C System users in biodiversity management and identification of the major steps in their biodiversity action plans, 4C encourages 4C System users to participate in a special web-training on biodiversity offered by the Food & Biodiversity Initiative if sufficient interest has been indicated by participants. The training course will be led by experts from the Lake Constance Foundation, Fundación Humedales and the IST University of Lisbon and consists of the following modules (duration of each module – 1,5 to 2 hours):

  • Module 1: Protection and Reinforcement of Biodiversity
  • Module 2: Very Good Agricultural Practices
  • Module 3: Biodiversity Performance Tool Café and Monitoring

If you are interested in participating in the biodiversity training course, please register here.

Download the web-training teaser

Modern slavery is a global issue with 40,3 million people in the world still suffering from it. Meet InPACTO Vulnerability Index – an innovative data-based approach to prevent and combat modern slavery conditions and child labour in Brazil.

The InPACTO Vulnerability Index is designed to take a proactive approach against conditions analogous to slavery and child labour in Brazil. It maps the factors that make a certain municipality or region and its population more vulnerable to human rights violation, in particular, forced labour, debt bondage, debilitating workdays, and degrading working conditions, and identifies the risk level via cross-analysis of socioeconomic and demographic data.

To create its Vulnerability Index, InPACTO analysed over 400 variables from various sources in the national statistical system in Brazil, including the ILO Municipal Decent Work Indicator System and ILO Digital Slave Labor Observatory, as well the “Dirty List”[1], and others. Apart from the direct variables related to conditions analogous to slavery, the index also includes indirect variables, such as the public health situation and housing facilities.

Between September 2019 and March 2020, InPACTO carried out a pilot project to enable a better understanding of the InPACTO Vulnerability Index by the companies. For this fundamentally important test phase, 20 Brazilian and multinational companies with suppliers in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais were invited to learn, evaluate, and contribute to the improvement of the tool.

4C also made its contribution to the index, being one of the companies who participated in the pilot project. The topic is a part of the 4C social requirements under its Code of Conduct, and therefore 4C supports the work of InPACTO in expanding the index to other states and sees a huge potential in this high technology tool to map levels of vulnerability in the whole country of Brazil.

The InPACTO Vulnerability Index will enable companies whose supply chains include sourcing operations in Brazil to estimate their risks and develop action plans for supporting and ensuring a better future for vulnerable regions.

To learn more about the InPACTO Vulnerability Index, please watch the video or visit their website.

[1] “Dirty list” contains the names of individual and legal entities in Brazil known to exploit labour under conditions analogous to slavery. This list is included into the risk assessment tools of 4C. The “dirty list” is available to the public on the website of the Ministry of Labour and Employment of Brazil (www.mte.gov.br).



Ajinomoto AGF, INC. launches new product packaging with 4C logo for its “Blendy” Stick Series and “Blendy” “CAFÉ LATORY” Stick Series to highlight its commitment to the procurement of sustainable coffee beans

As a part of its commitment to the procurement of sustainable coffee beans, Ajinomoto AGF, Inc. (“AGF”) is pleased to announce the release of new product packaging marked with 4C certification logo for its 39 items of two brands of “Blendy” Stick Series and “Blendy” “CAFÉ LATORY” Stick Series.

We at AGF are grateful to 4C for its support to our sustainable commitment. In the procurement of coffee beans, AGF aims at sustainable procurement with careful attention to the global environment, attainment of a safe and secure labor environment, approaches to agricultural productivity improvement, and economic sufficiency. In order to accomplish our aim, we have procured 4C coffee beans since 2013 through the established sustainable, trustworthy, and fair coffee supply chains of 4C on its strict criteria, – says Hideaki Shinada, President & Representative Director of AGF. Receiving support from 4C, we introduce the 4C certification mark into our new product packaging for our flagship products of stick coffee, “Blendy” Stick Series and “Blendy” “CAFÉ LATORY” Stick Series, to dedicate ourselves more to sustainable coffee bean procurement through our business activities. By introducing the 4C certification mark this way, we aim not only to consolidate our sustainable engagement with 4C but also to facilitate ethical consumption and enhancement of consumers’ awareness of environmental concerns in Japan.”

4C is proud to support Ajinomoto AGF’s sustainability commitment. We invested a lot of effort to be where we are now: a comprehensive and reliable standard covering social, environmental, and economic sustainability criteria, as confirmed by independent benchmark assessments. We continue challenging ourselves to improve our certification system and the implementation of its sustainability requirements. The increased visibility of 4C on the Japanese market is an important driver for us to continue moving forward on our pathway,” – Norbert Schmitz, Managing Director of 4C.

This step is not only important for the development of the 4C certification but also increasing consumer awareness on social and environmental issues in the coffee sector. 4C applies strict criteria to establish sustainable, trustworthy, and fair coffee supply chains. The 4C standard ensures that coffee cultivation is not contributing to deforestation and reduction of biodiversity, that good agricultural practices and the protection of soil, water, and the air are applied, that human, labour, and land rights are respected and that farmers are sufficiently trained to increase productivity and profitability. 4C sustainability requirements are reflected in the 4C Code of Conduct developed in a transparent and inclusive multi-stakeholder process.

About 4C

4C is the largest certification system for the sustainable cultivation and processing of coffee. 4C coffee is produced in 24 countries by more than 400.000 farmers. This covers a total green coffee production of 26,8 million bags (60 kg) on 970 thousand hectares of farm area.[1] Independent third-party audits, conducted by 23 certification bodies cooperating with 4C, ensure farmer compliance with the sustainability criteria of the 4C standard. More information under www.4c-services.org.

[1] Year of reference: 2019.

Further Information – Downloads and Links:

After several months of collecting and compiling all our experiences made within the last years and the valuable feedback received from our stakeholders to revise the 4C System requirements and documents, we would like to let you know that the new 4C System documents are now finalized. They comprise:

4C CODE OF CONDUCT V. 4.0 entails revised 4C’s sustainability principles and criteria. Its focus is on the sustainable production of coffee green bean and its post-harvest activities.




4C SYSTEM REGULATIONS V. 4.0 describes all relevant aspects and requirements of the 4C System, including general principles, internal structure, and the 4C certification requirements. This document replaces the former 4C Regulations, including 4C Verification Regulations V.2.2, 4C Commercial Guidelines V.2.3, and 4C Communication Guidelines V.2.2.



4C CERTIFICATION BODY REGULATIONS V. 4.0 lays down the requirements for Certification Bodies (CBs) to become a cooperating CB of 4C, and the duties of CBs to perform certification services according to the 4C requirements.




To access the 4C document library that entails not only the above-listed system documents but also supporting documents, such as 4C Certification Step-by-Step, 4C Glossary, as well as various tools and templates, please follow the link.

Important note: 4C offers introductory online seminars to provide an opportunity for you to learn more about the main changes in the 4C System, resulting from the latest revision of the 4C System documents and ask questions. We encourage every current 4C System user as well as any other parties interested in the 4C System to use this opportunity. Participation is free of charge, but registration is required. To register, please click here.