15.6.2021 Article

International Coffee Partners (ICP) is turning 20 years old and we at Paulig are grateful for and proud of the valuable co-operation over the years.

“International Coffee Partners together with the farmers and a network of other partners, have succeeded in improving the sustainability of coffee growing and farming communities’ livelihoods around the world. ICP is one of our longest running partnership initiatives within coffee and it has been interesting and rewarding to get to see the impact such values-based collaboration can have. As we are now celebrating the 20th anniversary of ICP, our vision of improving smallholder coffee farmer families’ livelihoods through making them more competitive based on sustainable practices remains as valid as ever. We are happy of the achievements and proud of all our farmer partners for making them happen in their farms and communities. We look forward to sharing our learnings from this journey thus far at ICP”, says Seija Säynevirta, Head of Human Rights and Sustainable Sourcing.

Paulig´s goal is to become a sustainable frontrunner in the industry and we work every day to promote it. We want to contribute to enhancing coffee growers’ livelihoods, climate resilience and protect the nature and natural resources in the countries of origin of coffee cultivation. “ICP is truly a unique pre-competitive collaboration that enables us to contribute to sustainable, climate-smart landscapes and thriving coffee communities more widely”, says Seija.

At Paulig, we build long-term partnerships with our suppliers, customers, and other stakeholders. Collaboration will enable us at Paulig to achieve significant improvements in sustainability in the food and beverage industry. ICP holds a special place among our long-term partnerships and we are happy and proud of the work done and the results achieved in the last 20 years.

What does ICP do?

ICP has worked since 2001 to improve sustainability in coffee farming regions. ICP is a non-profit organisation and Paulig is a founding member of ICP. Today, ICP is a strong pre-competitive partnership of eight leading family-owned European coffee companies (Paulig, Löfbergs, Lavazza, Neumann Gruppe, Tchibo, Joh. Johannson Kaffe, Franck and Delta Cafés.)

ICP furthers sustainable development in coffee-producing countries by realising projects which benefit coffee farmer families and the environment. ICP implements innovative project work following a holistic approach. Key elements of the ICP approach are: supporting the building of inclusive family businesses, strengthening of farmer organisations, enabling climate change adaption and mitigation, as well as enabling the next generation and women to have equal opportunities. The partnership has achieved meaningful results over the last 20 years, benefiting over 90,000 farmer families in 13 countries. Currently, ICP has projects ongoing in six countries and it has already finalised 23 projects. ICP projects in the current focus countries Brazil, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Tanzania and Uganda are all implemented by Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS).

For example, in Indonesia ICP has worked since 2014 with over 13,000 farmers’ households and 595 farmers’ organizations. Results of this work have seen project participating farmers improve their coffee yields by 40 per cent and household income by 50 per cent. The next phase of the project will focus on supporting farmer families organising into strong and professional farmers’ organisations that can further continue the development. Another key focus area for the future is building climate change resilience and continuing with implementing climate-smart and good agricultural practices.

“We are happy with the good results, but in all ICP work we have been most impressed by the farmers’ own enterprise and willingness to drive change in their communities and by hearing their personal stories”, says Seija.

One such story comes from a young farmer, Teddy Nakyambadda, who farms coffee, tomatoes, maize and beans in her 3.5 hectare farm in the Mityana District in Uganda. Through her participation in the ICP project, she now views her farm as a business and the surrounding farmers as a community that needs to work together. She has joined the village savings and loans association and her co-operative supports her to sell her coffee for better prices. She has also implemented good agricultural and post-harvest practices to contribute to a better coffee quality and production. She has become a role model for local youth and trains them in what she has learned. Teddy is now running her coffee-based farm business with growing confidence and has managed to increase the volume of her harvests. “Everything is moving on smoothly”, she smiles. “I am my own boss.”

Promoting respect for human rights is at the heart of ICP’s approach and we see building gender equity as one key part of ICP’s Theory of Change. Gender inequalities in households hamper the potentials of smallholder families by constraining balanced decision taking and a fair distribution of work. Effects of climate change are aggravating the situation and make agriculture and coffee cultivation more difficult. This is why in ICP work smallholder coffee farmer families are supported to run their farms as successful family businesses and to become aware of the advantages and necessity of gender equality. Our aim is that the household members see themselves as equal partners in farming and other economic and household activities and that they share opportunities and responsibilities. All household members share a joint vision of how to develop their livelihoods and take proactive steps to reach this vision. Such families are role models in their communities.

How has ICP influenced Paulig over the years?

We asked Lenita Ingelin, SVP, BA Finland & Baltics, what has been achieved through the 20 years of collaboration.


ICP so far has reached almost 100,000 families in 13 coffee producing countries.

“For Paulig every individual is important, and it feels good to know that by our actions we can make an impact on the lives of so many people”, says Lenita.

ICP is not only about implementing projects, but focusing on the families at the centre of our work. ICP focuses on farmer families’ needs and wants to see them reach their full potential.

Future prospects for ICP and Paulig

At Paulig, we look forward, to what we can achieve together with other family-owned coffee companies and farming communities in the future through the work of ICP.

Seija summarises Paulig’s plans for the next years regarding to coffee sustainability, “Our goal is to continue to maintain existing and identify new partnerships, which will enable us to expand our contribution to sustainable development goals even further. We are excited to see the next chapter of the unique and innovative work of ICP and what unlocking the full potential of sharing learnings and knowledge can bring. In addition to the global level sharing of experiences ICP is contributing as a coffee sector actor to the common good, there are local learning communities among farmers being established that, through leveraging new technologies, can bring another gear to the ICP work and impact going forward. Even stronger inclusion of women and youth as central change agents will further strengthen the possibilities of creating climate-smart and resilient coffee landscapes and thriving coffee communities of the future. Together.”