New EU regulation bans coffee imports from deforested land with strict law to destroy also stocks within the given timeline

New EU regulation bans coffee imports from deforested land with strict law to destroy also stocks within the given timeline

November 28 - 2023

Coffee Geography Magazine

D.L. Gemeda

The new regulation, formally adopted by the European Parliament, will require companies importing coffee to obtain a “due diligence” statement that confirms the goods were not derived from deforested lands or linked to forest degradation. 

Major coffee companies including Italy's Lavazza are concerned about the "practicalities" of a new European Union law aimed at stopping deforestation. Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of coffee and cocoa stored in EU warehouses are at risk of being destroyed as an unforeseen consequence of the bloc’s deforestation law, which came into force in June. 

ICE warned that confusion over stored goods “will impact the industry’s ability to trade products in a frictionless way, and manage risk responsibly and effectively”.

The member of parliament responsible for shepherding the legislation through, Christophe Hansen, said the passage of the law was a key step in the fight against climate change. He also believed this law would help deepen trade relationships between the European Union and countries that “share our environmental values.”

However, some has already expressed their concerns on the new regulation. "It will be very difficult to implement this law in practical terms, because the coffee supply chain is very complex and traceability is very difficult," Lavazza Group Chairman Giuseppe Lavazza told Reuters. "We are talking to the European authorities through our association to try to find a way." 

Christophe Hansen, who led negotiations on the law for the European Parliament, said: "I don't think it's impossible. It will be a challenge for them for sure because coffee sector producers are often quite small.

"But we have integrated into the text (of the law) the obligation of the European Commission to help especially small-holder farmers to be able to comply with the requirements." The passing of the law comes on the back of a recent proposal from the European Commission to “crack down on the practice of greenwashing”, in which companies make unfounded or misleading claims about the sustainability of their products. The proposed new directive would require companies that want to sell “green” labeled products in EU countries to undergo an independent verification of their environmental claims. The proposal will need the approval of the European Parliament and the Council to become law. 

"There should be more dialogue about how do we practically make something happen on the ground," Chief Executive Dirk Van de Put said. 

The EU says it introduced its landmark deforestation law because years of voluntary commitments by food companies to rid their supply chains of environmental harms had largely failed to have an impact on the ground. 

Italian confectionary group Ferrero wants the EU to provide specific guidance on compliance for each commodity because supply chains vary greatly between them.