Innovation in Sustainable Supply Chain: Sustainable Harvest
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
David Griswold is the CEO of Sustainable Harvest, which is bringing better transparency to the coffee industry.
After 20 years in business, it’s safe to say that Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers has not only overhauled its own approach to the global coffee supply chain, but has fundamentally changed the industry.
Nowadays, coffee addicts aren’t surprised to find themselves studying photos of the farmers who grew the beans while they’re waiting in line. Many at least give a passing thought to whether they’d prefer Ethiopian or Costa Rican beans, and even if they don’t, they know the difference in taste.
“The first big difference I wanted to create in the industry was an end-to-end transparency between my growers and the buyers,” said David Griswold, founder and CEO of Portland-based Sustainable Harvest. “When I started out, that was not the norm.”
Now, that kind of transparency is becoming more commonplace in the $70 billion global coffee business. Meanwhile, 41-employee Sustainable Harvest continues to push the envelope.
“The reason I got into coffee was to help farmers get more for their coffee and improve their livelihood,” Griswold said.
So why form a business rather than an international development nonprofit?
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The easy answer is that Griswold wanted to do for coffee what Ben and Jerry did for ice cream.
“Business is a very powerful tool,” Griswold said. “It gives a very quick feedback loop about what needs to be fixed. Business has this power to make people change behavior really quickly.”
Both Ben & Jerry’s and Sustainable Harvest are certified B Corps., which means they’ve been audited by a third-party organization, B Labs, and found to be a business oriented toward social good in addition to the bottom line.
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