Connect with us

Top Stories

Sustainability in the coffee industry, a practical approach

Published

on

Sustainability in the coffee industry, a practical approach

By Pascal Héritier, COO at MZBG

The current situation: Environmental challenges and sustainability

Coffee is the second most important raw material sold worldwide, being produced in about 70 countries located in tropical areas with hot and humid climates.

The intensive cultivation adopted by large producers with the aim of maximizing returns through monoculture and the abundant use of synthetic chemicals cause the deterioration of the land and the surrounding environment, threatening biodiversity. It has therefore become necessary to rethink the paradigm of industrial commodity production, introducing the concept of sustainability. But what does this word mean?

 According to The State of Sustainable Coffee- A study of 12 international markets”, (ICO)Sustainability is a dynamic continuum and can best be perceived as an ongoing process rather than a static achievement. Sustainability has been defined in several ways and {..} the term {…}, states that in order to achieve sustainability, long-term environmental, social, and economic needs must be met in an integrated manner without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

The common minimum denominator for the challenges posed by sustainability can therefore be translated with the slogan “giving back to the community”.

Market responses

The challenges facing coffee producers are therefore multiple: on the one hand, to guarantee very high levels of production, on the other hand, to ensure respect for the environment and to promote social cohesion and improve the workers’ living standard.

Over the years, an attempt has been made to respond to a need which, while safeguarding product excellence, also guarantees an economic return and benefits in environmental and social terms. This has led to the creation of organic, ecological and fair-trade coffees – whose higher than average price also reflects the goal to enhance the living conditions of the people involved in the production chain, and to satisfy a niche market characterized by a higher sensitivity to the matter. 

The challenging elements in the world of sustainable coffee

Talking about sustainability in the food industry is always challenging given the many aspects that come into play. The elements to be analysed are numerous and range from responsible use of water resources, to the materials used for product packaging and initiatives aimed at supporting local communities.

 Water and respect for groundwater

Careful use of water reserves has always been difficult to match with large-scale intensive farming. However, this issue has to be tackled as a most high priority, especially in times where we are witnessing progressive desertification and increasing global warming concerns.

In this respect, a best practice in the industry comes from Kauai Coffee, the largest coffee plantation in the United States – with over 4 million coffee plants on the island of Kauai in Hawaii – owned by the Massimo Zanetti Beverage Group. Kauai has in fact become the world’s largest drip irrigation coffee company, with over 2,500 miles of drip tubes, a system that allows water to be saved and recycled in the fields.

The use of chemicals is another key aspect. In 2018, Kauai set the objective of reducing the use of all types of pesticides by 70% by 2021 and completely eliminating “Restricted use pesticides” in its processes.

Packaging

Manufacturers face big pressure also in regard to the materials used in the product packaging process. While they play a pivotal role in the optimization of costs, timing and ways of distribution and delivery, they are also the cause of a waste production that must be hindered.

A further element to consider is the fact that the materials used for packaging allow to preserve intact the freshness, the aroma and, in general, the qualities of the coffee. These are important elements in any industry, but especially crucial for coffee, which is a living product that tends to change its organoleptic qualities according to even the slightest variations in climatic conditions. For this reason, the materials used play a key role in determining the success of a brand or a company.

In this regard, Massimo Zanetti Beverage Group launched several initiatives aimed at reducing as much as possible the impact of coffee capsules on the environment: among these, the example of Segafredo Zanetti France stands out. In 2019, the French company of the group launched 100% biodegradable and compostable capsules; last January, the product was awarded “product of the year”in France. Furthermore, the Group is about to introduce other innovative solutions on the market in the coming months.

Another brand owned by Massimo Zanetti Beverage Group, Boncafè International, was among the first to sign the terms contained in the Singapore Packaging Agreement, an initiative launched in 2007 and supported by the local government, aimed at reducing packaging waste, which today accounts for one third of household waste.

Local communities

Improving the living conditions of populations involved in the cultivation and harvesting of coffee is another key aspect to be considered with a view to achieving a 100% sustainable approach. This is an even more challenging task due to the volatility of the price of green coffee.

In this respect, Boncafè lnternational and Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA decided to join the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, an initiative that aims to promote sustainability along the supply chain, focusing on the well-being of local populations. Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA has devised a project in relation to the education of the local population in one of the main countries of supply for the company.

The Boncafé Group, which has been a partner in the initiative since 2017, has already developed and undertaken its commitment, that is ensuring the long-term well-being of farming communities, by promoting training initiatives aimed at internal and external stakeholders on the importance of traceability and sustainability in coffee growing practices.

All that being said, there is no shortage of sustainable initiatives in the coffee production and distribution chain. The real challenge is to give them a direction, which is first and foremost a matter of vision. Getting them up and running and creating a real culture of sustainability are the natural following steps. Some companies are proving to be one step ahead of others.

Top Stories

TCI: A time of critical importance

Published

on

TCI: A time of critical importance 1

By Fabrice Desnos, head of Northern Europe Region, Euler Hermes, the world’s leading trade credit insurer, outlines the importance of less publicised measures for the journey ahead.

After months of lockdown, Europe is shifting towards rebuilding economies and resuming trade. Amongst the multibillion-euro stimulus packages provided by governments to businesses to help them resume their engines of growth, the cooperation between the state and private sector trade credit insurance underwriters has perhaps missed the headlines. However, this cooperation will be vital when navigating the uncertain road ahead.

Covid-19 has created a global economic crisis of unprecedented scale and speed. Consequently, we’re experiencing unprecedented levels of support from national governments. Far-reaching fiscal intervention, job retention and business interruption loan schemes are providing a lifeline for businesses that have suffered reductions in turnovers to support national lockdowns.

However, it’s becoming clear the worst is still to come. The unintended consequence of government support measures is delaying the inevitable fallout in trade and commerce. Euler Hermes is already seeing increase in claims for late payments and expects this trend to accelerate as government support measures are progressively removed.

The Covid-19 crisis will have long lasting and sometimes irreversible effects on a number of sectors. It has accelerated transformations that were already underway and had radically changed the landscape for a number of businesses. This means we are seeing a growing number of “zombie” companies, currently under life support, but whose business models are no longer adapted for the post-crisis world. All factors which add up to what is best described as a corporate insolvency “time bomb”.

The effects of the crisis are already visible. In the second quarter of 2020, 147 large companies (those with a turnover above €50 million) failed; up from 77 in the first quarter, and compared to 163 for the whole of the first half of 2019. Retail, services, energy and automotive were the most impacted sectors this year, with the hotspots in retail and services in Western Europe and North America, energy in North America, and automotive in Western Europe

We expect this trend to accelerate and predict a +35% rise in corporate insolvencies globally by the end of 2021. European economies will be among the hardest hit. For example, Spain (+41%) and Italy (+27%) will see the most significant increases – alongside the UK (+43%), which will also feel the impact of Brexit – compared to France (+25%) or Germany (+12%).

Companies are restarting trade, often providing open credit to their clients. However, there can be no credit if there is no confidence. It is increasingly difficult for companies to identify which of their clients will emerge from the crisis from those that won’t, and whether or when they will be paid. In the immediate post-lockdown period, without visibility and confidence, the risk was that inter-company credit could evaporate, placing an additional liquidity strain on the companies that depend on it. This, in turn, would significantly put at risk the speed and extent of the economic recovery.

In recent months, Euler Hermes has co-operated with government agencies, trade associations and private sector trade credit insurance underwriters to create state support for intercompany trade, notably in France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK. All with the same goal: to allow companies to trade with each other in confidence.

By providing additional reinsurance capacity to the trade credit insurers, governments help them continue to provide cover to their clients at pre-crisis levels.

The beneficiaries are the thousands of businesses – clients of credit insurers and their buyers – that depend upon intercompany trade as a source of financing. Over 70% of Euler Hermes policyholders are SMEs, which are the lifeblood of our economies and major providers of jobs. These agreements are not without costs or constraints for the insurers, but the industry has chosen to place the interests of its clients and of the economy ahead of other considerations, mindful of the important role credit insurance and inter-company trade will play in the recovery.

Taking the UK as an example, trade credit insurers provide cover for more than £171billion of intercompany transactions, covering 13,000 suppliers and 650,000 buyers. The government has put in place a temporary scheme of £10billion to enable trade credit insurers, including Euler Hermes, to continue supporting businesses at risk due to the impact of coronavirus. This landmark agreement represents an important alliance between the public and private sectors to support trade and prevent the domino effect that payment defaults can create within critical supply chains.

But, as with all of the other government support measures, these schemes will not exist in the long term. It is already time for credit insurers and their clients to plan ahead, and prepare for a new normal in which the level and cost of credit risk will be heightened and where identifying the right counterparts, diversifying and insuring credit risk will be of paramount importance for businesses.

Trade credit insurance plays an understated role in the economy but is critical to its health. In normal circumstances, it tends to go unnoticed because it is doing its job. Government support schemes helped maintain confidence between companies and their customers in the immediate aftermath of the crisis.

However, as government support measures are progressively removed, this crisis will have a lasting impact. Accelerating transformations, leading to an increasing number of company restructurings and, in all likelihood, increasing the level of credit risk. To succeed in the post-crisis environment, bbusinesses have to move fast from resilience to adaptation. They have to adopt bold measures to protect their businesses against future crises (or another wave of this pandemic), minimize risk, and drive future growth. By maintaining trust to trade, with or without government support, credit insurance will have an increasing role to play in this.

Continue Reading

Top Stories

What Does the FinCEN File Leak Tell Us?

Published

on

What Does the FinCEN File Leak Tell Us? 2

By Ted Sausen, Subject Matter Expert, NICE Actimize

On September 20, 2020, just four days after the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a much-anticipated Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the financial industry was shaken and their stock prices saw significant declines when the markets opened on Monday. So what caused this? Buzzfeed News in cooperation with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released what is now being tagged the FinCEN files. These files and summarized reports describe over 200,000 transactions with a total over $2 trillion USD that has been reported to FinCEN as being suspicious in nature from the time periods 1999 to 2017. Buzzfeed obtained over 2,100 Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) and over 2,600 confidential documents financial institutions had filed with FinCEN over that span of time.

Similar such leaks have occurred previously, such as the Panama Papers in 2016 where over 11 million documents containing personal financial information on over 200,000 entities that belonged to a Panamanian law firm. This was followed up a year and a half later by the Paradise Papers in 2017. This leak contained even more documents and contained the names of more than 120,000 persons and entities. There are three factors that make the FinCEN Files leak significantly different than those mentioned. First, they are highly confidential documents leaked from a government agency. Secondly, they weren’t leaked from a single source. The leaked documents came from nearly 90 financial institutions facilitating financial transactions in more than 150 countries. Lastly, some high-profile names were released in this leak; however, the focus of this leak centered more around the transactions themselves and the financial institutions involved, not necessarily the names of individuals involved.

FinCEN Files and the Impact

What does this mean for the financial institutions? As mentioned above, many experienced a negative impact to their stocks. The next biggest impact is their reputation. Leaders of the highlighted institutions do not enjoy having potential shortcomings in their operations be exposed, nor do customers of those institutions appreciate seeing the institution managing their funds being published adversely in the media.

Where did the financial institutions go wrong? Based on the information, it is actually hard to say where they went wrong, or even ‘if’ they went wrong. Financial institutions are obligated to monitor transactional activity, both inbound and outbound, for suspicious or unusual behavior, especially those that could appear to be illicit activities related to money laundering. If such behavior is identified, the financial institution is required to complete a Suspicious Activity Report, or a SAR, and file it with FinCEN. The SAR contains all relevant information such as the parties involved, transaction(s), account(s), and details describing why the activity is deemed to be suspicious. In some cases, financial institutions will file a SAR if there is no direct suspicion; however, there also was not a logical explanation found either.

So what deems certain activities to be suspicious and how do financial institutions detect them? Most financial institutions have sophisticated solutions in place that monitor transactions over a period of time, and determine typical behavioral patterns for that client, and that client compared to their peers. If any activity falls disproportionately beyond those norms, the financial institution is notified, and an investigation is conducted. Because of the nature of this detection, incorporating multiple transactions, and comparing it to historical “norms”, it is very difficult to stop a transaction related to money laundering real-time. It is not uncommon for a transaction or series of transactions to occur and later be identified as suspicious, and a SAR is filed after the transaction has been completed.

FinCEN Files: Who’s at Fault?

Going back to my original question, was there any wrong doing? In this case, they were doing exactly what they were required to do. When suspicion was identified, SARs were filed. There are two things that are important to note. Suspicion does not equate to guilt, and individual financial institutions have a very limited view as to the overall flow of funds. They have visibility of where funds are coming from, or where they are going to; however, they don’t have an overall picture of the original source, or the final destination. The area where financial institutions may have fault is if multiple suspicions or probable guilt is found, but they fail to take appropriate action. According to Buzzfeed News, instances of transactions to or from sanctioned parties occurred, and known suspicious activity was allowed to continue after it was discovered.

Moving Forward

How do we do better? First and foremost, FinCEN needs to identify the source of the leak and fix it immediately. This is very sensitive data. Even within a financial institution, this information is only exposed to individuals with a high-level clearance on a need-to-know basis. This leak may result in relationship strains with some of the banks’ customers. Some people already have a fear of being watched or tracked, and releasing publicly that all these reports are being filed from financial institutions to the federal government won’t make that any better – especially if their financial institution was highlighted as one of those filing the most reports. Next, there has been more discussion around real-time AML. Many experts are still working on defining what that truly means, especially when some activities deal with multiple transactions over a period of time; however, there is definitely a place for certain money laundering transactions to be held in real time.

Lastly, the ability to share information between financial institutions more easily will go a long way in fighting financial crime overall. For those of you who are AML professionals, you may be thinking we already have such a mechanism in place with 314b. However, the feedback I have received is that it does not do an adequate job. It’s voluntary and getting responses to requests can be a challenge. Financial institutions need a consortium to effectively communicate with each other, while being able to exchange critical data needed for financial institutions to see the complete picture of financial transactions and all associated activities. That, combined with some type of feedback loop from law enforcement indicating which SARs are “useful” versus which are either “inadequate” or “unnecessary” will allow institutions to focus on those where criminal activity is really occurring.

We will continue to post updates as we learn more.

Continue Reading

Top Stories

How can financial services firms keep pace with escalating requirements?

Published

on

How can financial services firms keep pace with escalating requirements? 3

By Tim FitzGerald, UK Banking & Financial Services Sales Manager, InterSystems

Financial services firms are currently coming up against a number of critical challenges, ranging from market volatility, most recently influenced by COVID-19, to the introduction of regulations, such as the Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and Fundamental Review of the Trading Book (FRTB). However, these issues are being compounded as many financial institutions find it increasingly difficult to get a handle on the vast volumes of data that they have at their disposal. This is no surprise given that IDC has projected that by 2025, the global “datasphere” will have grown to a staggering 175 zettabytes of data – more than five times the amount of data generated in 2018. As an industry that has typically only invested in new technology when regulations deem it necessary, many traditional banks are now operating using legacy systems and applications that haven’t been designed or built to interoperate. Consequently, banks are struggling to leverage data to achieve business goals and to gain a clear picture of their organisation and processes in order to comply with regulatory requirements. These challenges have been more prevalent during the pandemic as financial services firms were forced to adapt their operations to radical changes in customer behaviour and increased demand for digital services – all while working largely remotely themselves.

As more stringent regulations come in to play and financial services firms look to keep pace with escalating requirements from regulators, consumer demand for more online services, and the ever-evolving nature of the industry and world at large, it’s vital they do two things. Firstly, they must begin to invest in the technology and processes that will allow them to more easily manage the data that traditional banks have been collecting and storing for upwards of 50 years. Secondly, they must innovate. For many, the COVID-19 pandemic will have been a catalyst for both actions. However, the hard work has only just begun.

Legacy technology

Traditionally, due to tight budgets and no overarching regulatory imperative to change, financial institutions haven’t done enough to address their overreliance on disconnected legacy systems. Even when faced with the new wave of regulation that was implemented in the wake of the 2008 banking crash, financial services organisations generally only had to invest in different applications on an ad hoc basis to meet each individual regulation. However, as new regulations require the analysis of larger data sets within smaller processing windows, breaking down any and all data siloes is essential and this will require financial institutions that are still reliant on legacy systems to implement new technologies to meet the regulatory stipulations.

With this in mind, solutions which offer high-quality data analytics and enhanced integration will be key to the success of financial institutions and crucial to eliminate data silos. This will enable organisations to achieve a faster and more accurate analysis of real-time and historical data no matter where they are accessing the data from within smaller processing windows to keep pace with regulatory requirements, while also benefiting from low infrastructure costs.

This technology will also play a huge part in helping financial institutions scale their online operations to meet demand from customers for digital services. According to PNC Bank, during the pandemic, it saw online sales jump from 25% to 75%. Therefore, having data platforms that are able to handle surges in online activity is becoming increasingly important.

Real-time analysis of data

Tim FitzGerald

Tim FitzGerald

While the precise solution financial services institutions need will differ based on the organisation, broadly speaking, the more data they are storing on legacy solutions, the more they are going to require an updated data platform that can handle real-time analytics. Even organisations that have fewer legacy systems are still likely to require solutions that deliver enhanced interoperability to help provide a real-time view across the business and enable them to meet the pressing regulatory requirements they face. Let’s also not lose sight of the fact that moving transactional data to a data warehouse, data lake, or any other silo will never deliver real-time analytics, therefore, businesses making risk decisions based on this and thinking it is real-time is completely inappropriate.

As such, financial services firms require a data platform that can ingest real-time transactional data, as well as from a variety of other sources of historical and reference data, normalise it, and make sense of it. The ability to process transactions at scale in real-time and simultaneously run analytics using transactional real-time data and large sets of non-real-time data, such as reference data, is a crucial capability for various business requirements. For example, powering mission-critical trading platforms that cannot slow down or drop trades, even as volumes spike.

Not only will having access to real-time data enable financial institutions to meet evolving regulatory requirements, but it will also allow them to make faster and more accurate decisions for their organisation andcustomers. With many financial services firms operating on a global basis, this is vital to help them keep up not only with evolving regulations but also changing circumstances in different markets in light of the pandemic. This data can also help them understand how to become more agile, help their employees become productive while working remotely, and how to build up operational resilience. These insights will also be vital as financial institutions need to consider the likelihood of subsequent waves of the virus, allowing them to gain a better understanding of what has and hasn’t worked for their business so far. 

Innovation

The financial services sector is fast-paced and ever-changing. With the launch of more digital-only banks, traditional institutions need to innovate to avoid being left behind, with COVID-19 only highlighting this further. With more than a third (35%) of customers increasing their use of online banking during this period, it is those banks and financial services firms with a solid online offering that have been best placed to answer this demand. As financial institutions cater to changing customer requirements, both now and in the future, implementing new technology that provides access to data in real-time will help them to uncover the fresh insights needed to develop new and transformative products and services for their customers. In turn, this will enable them to realise new revenue streams and potentially capture a bigger slice of the market. For instance, access to data will help banks better understand the needs of their customers during periods of upheaval, as well as under normal circumstance, which will allow them to target them with the specific services they may need during each of these periods to not only help their customers through difficult times but also to ensure the growth of their business. As financial institutions not only look to keep pace with but also gain an advantage over their competitors, using data to fuel excellent customer experiences will be essential to success.  

With the current economic uncertainty and market volatility, it’s critical that financial services are able to meet the changing requirements coming from all angles. With COVID-19 likely to be the biggest catalyst for financial institutions to digitally transform, they will be better able to cater to rapidly evolving landscapes and prepare for continued periods of remote working. As they look to achieve this, replacing legacy systems with innovative and agile technology solutions will be crucial to ensure they can gain the accurate and complete view of their enterprise data they need to comply with new and changing regulations, and better meet the needs of consumers in an increasingly digital landscape, whether they are located in an office or working remotely.

Continue Reading
Editorial & Advertiser disclosureOur website provides you with information, news, press releases, Opinion and advertorials on various financial products and services. This is not to be considered as financial advice and should be considered only for information purposes. We cannot guarantee the accuracy or applicability of any information provided with respect to your individual or personal circumstances. Please seek Professional advice from a qualified professional before making any financial decisions. We link to various third party websites, affiliate sales networks, and may link to our advertising partners websites. Though we are tied up with various advertising and affiliate networks, this does not affect our analysis or opinion. When you view or click on certain links available on our articles, our partners may compensate us for displaying the content to you, or make a purchase or fill a form. This will not incur any additional charges to you. To make things simpler for you to identity or distinguish sponsored articles or links, you may consider all articles or links hosted on our site as a partner endorsed link.

Call For Entries

Global Banking and Finance Review Awards Nominations 2020
2020 Global Banking & Finance Awards now open. Click Here

Latest Articles

Business recovery from COVID-19 lies in implementing the practice of Open Book Management 4 Business recovery from COVID-19 lies in implementing the practice of Open Book Management 5
Business14 hours ago

Business recovery from COVID-19 lies in implementing the practice of Open Book Management

By Suranga Herath is CEO of English Tea Shop, the leading independent speciality and organic tea company. Over the course of the...

Making Connectivity A Key Part of Cloud Strategy for Finance 6 Making Connectivity A Key Part of Cloud Strategy for Finance 7
Technology14 hours ago

Making Connectivity A Key Part of Cloud Strategy for Finance

By Eric Troyer, CMO at Megaport Finance organisations across the board are facing unprecedented disruption, with new technology entering the industry...

The Impact of Covid-19 on Planning 8 The Impact of Covid-19 on Planning 9
Business15 hours ago

The Impact of Covid-19 on Planning

By Nilly Essaides, Sherri Liao and Gilles Bonelli, The Hackett Group The economic consequences of the coronavirus outbreak vary by...

Covid-19 can reboot belt and road initiative towards a sustainable future 10 Covid-19 can reboot belt and road initiative towards a sustainable future 11
Business16 hours ago

Covid-19 can reboot belt and road initiative towards a sustainable future

A new CMS report reveals that Covid-19 has boosted Chinese enthusiasm for adopting the principles of BRI 2.0, leading to...

The (U)X Factor: The software bringing biometric payment cards to market 13 The (U)X Factor: The software bringing biometric payment cards to market 14
Technology16 hours ago

The (U)X Factor: The software bringing biometric payment cards to market

By Jonas Nilsson, Product Manager at Fingerprints With over 20 bank trials in progress and a second commercial roll-out imminent in...

Corporate treasuries under pressure need multi-banking trade finance technology 15 Corporate treasuries under pressure need multi-banking trade finance technology 16
Finance16 hours ago

Corporate treasuries under pressure need multi-banking trade finance technology

By Andrew Raymond, CEO, Bolero International The pressures on corporate treasuries in global trade have continued to mount since an...

How can financial services companies deliver great customer service and retain customer loyalty?  17 How can financial services companies deliver great customer service and retain customer loyalty?  18
Finance16 hours ago

How can financial services companies deliver great customer service and retain customer loyalty? 

By Chris Angus, Senior Director, 8×8 The reality many banks are facing now is that given Amazon Prime can deliver...

Embracing digital automation without compromising on customer experience 19 Embracing digital automation without compromising on customer experience 20
Technology16 hours ago

Embracing digital automation without compromising on customer experience

By Mang-Git NG, CEO & Founder of Anvil Community banks have always prided themselves on their ability to serve their...

Two-thirds of finance professionals are now more efficient due to the Covid-19 crisis 21 Two-thirds of finance professionals are now more efficient due to the Covid-19 crisis 22
Business16 hours ago

Two-thirds of finance professionals are now more efficient due to the Covid-19 crisis

The Covid-19 crisis is making a big impact on the efficiency of the UK’s finance departments, with 66% of financial...

Two thirds of people believe their work travel patterns have changed permanently 23 Two thirds of people believe their work travel patterns have changed permanently 24
Business17 hours ago

Two thirds of people believe their work travel patterns have changed permanently

Alphabet research shows accelerating demand for mobility and EVs after lockdown Only 35% of people expect to return to normal...

Newsletters with Secrets & Analysis. Subscribe Now