First Faculty Advisor
sustainability; coffee; supply chain; certifications; traceability
CC Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
The coffee industry is a growing industry characterized by a complex system of interrelated economic, environmental and social issues. While having appeared initially as a response to environmental and social movements, certifications are now used by coffee retailers as a business tool to satisfy consumer demand for greater transparency. They are used as indicators that the coffee retailer is investing in traceability of its supply chain. The purpose of this study is to assess the effectiveness of coffee certifications in practice by answering the following research question: are certifications successful in communicating the various traceability efforts made by retailers? To answer this question, a survey was developed and distributed using a snowball sampling method. The 89 usable responses were analyzed by running several regressions using a backward elimination method to determine: (1) The influential factors that give consumers confidence that traceability has been done; (2) The influential factors that give consumers confidence that a specific retailer has done greater traceability efforts than others. The results of our study show that while certifications do communicate traceability efforts, they also convey confusion to consumers who are unable to articulate what specific issues and processes are affected by these certifications. Future areas of research may focus on whether educating consumers on the existing issues within the coffee industry could fix this confusion; or whether other forms of corporate social responsibility, such as investments in environmental packaging or blockchain technologies, may be more efficient.