Impact of Transporting/Distributing Starbucks Coffee

Josh Burgner

Starbucks Coffee, Social Impact, Distribution

Blog #5

The supply chain of Starbucks is a complex huge system. It was only a few years ago (2008) that Starbucks CEO decided to move Peter D. Gibbons to head up the company’s supply chain. The reasons for this change and outcomes of it can be found in an article written by James A. Cooke titled From Bean to cup: How Starbucks transformed its supply chain from CSCMP’s Supply Chain Quarterly. Crooke mentions how important it is for an efficient supply chain when Starbucks is operating some 16,700 stores in 51 countries serving over 50 million customers. Although PLNU’s role in consumption of Starbuck’s coffee may be small in the grand scheme of things, it is still important to realize what role we play. PLNU’s campus is just one of many places Starbucks’ Coffee is distributed to and consumed from.

According to Crooke, the main change needed was to make the extremely intricate and complex supply chain to a much more simple one. This simplification boiled Starbucks’ entire supply chain down into four categories: plan, source, make, and deliver. Starbucks has some 2.7 million deliveries per year coming from various numbers of roasting plants, co-manufacturers, and distribution centers/warehouses as outlined in Crooke’s article. Much of the supply chain overhaul was done for economic reasons, but with this large of a supply chain Starbucks also focuses on the environmental impact it has.

Information on the transportation of Starbucks’ products is hard to come by. But, with that  being said Starbucks does set out to offset its environmental impact through various means. As seen in their Global Responsibility Report, Starbucks is addressing their impact from many different angles. One large impact on global climate change is the emissions produced through less than efficient means of energy consumption. In some cases it may be transportation of goods, and it others it may be energy used in stores. As stated in their responsibility report “Starbucks is concerned about climate change and the long-term impact it will have on coffee supplies and on the health of the communities where we do business… Starbucks has been driving our climate change strategy since 2004, focusing on renewable energy, [and] energy conservation… We’re also committed to continue championing progressive climate change policy.”

From what I have seen thus far, Starbucks does not reveal much information on how their coffee truly moves from the coffee farms to our cups. True, they do address their impact on the environment overall but little focus is placed on their transportation. We can’t simply assume that they have poor practices, but at the same time we can’t assume they are doing their best. Yes, Starbucks has overhauled their supply chain to save money, and part of that saving money has come from acting more efficiently which has most likely resulted in reduced social/environmental impact. Seeing as decreased environmental health would only hinder Starbucks’ success, it would naturally follow that they are active in mitigating their impact. This means that in order to better move “From bean to cup” Starbucks, we can assume, is focusing not only sustainable and economically sound practices with sourcing and selling, but also distribution. Starbucks revolutionized their supply chain which has saved them millions of dollars through increasing efficiency;  part of this efficiency is found in mitigating their wasted resources in transportation/distribution. But, the reality of the situation is that they don’t really address their impact through transportation and need to provide more transparent information in regards to this.

Impact of Transporting/Distributing Starbucks Coffee

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