The Neumann Kaffee Gruppe (NKG) is the world’s leading raw coffee service provider. As an owner-managed company in the third generation with headquarters in HH, the topic of Corporate Responsibility (CR) has grown organically: From local project work to professional CR management at group level.

The challenge of a decentral business model

Since decades, the NKG in operates an organisation with largely decentralised business models. As a result, the NKG has a wealth of local sustainability initiatives that have grown over time. From a CR perspective, this is both a challenge and an opportunity: “Our decentralised business approach has helped us to design and implement numerous sustainability activities at different levels of the coffee value chain. As a result, we now combine a great deal of sustainable know-how in our Group. This had to be systematically recorded and further developed before we went outside,” explains Sonja König, Head of Corporate Responsibility at NKG.

Successfully steering and promoting CR approaches

König is concerned with the strategic orientation of the group of companies in this respect. In view of the decentralised structure, CR management is pursuing the claim “as centrally as necessary and as decentrally as possible”. In order to promote sustainability as a company’s core competence, NKG nowadays bundles the commitment of its subsidiaries in a central sustainability strategy. The holding company acts as a source of ideas for the operating companies and combines the various sustainability approaches in a strategic framework. NKG subsidiaries derive their country-specific objectives from the Group strategy and enrich the Group with their local expertise and network.

Impact measurement as the supreme discipline when it comes to proof of success

In particular, impact data itself is difficult to record. However, it is an important criterion for strategic business development. As part of its corporate responsibility, NKG concentrates today on 4 strategic fields of action and 10 group goals. Systematic data collection is the key to continuous progress at Group level. The NKG primarily uses reliable data at the output and outcome levels to present progress towards its sustainability goals. The calculations were carried out retroactively until 2011 to determine the status quo in the four sustainability-relevant fields of action of the Group. Initially, the focus was on validating the group goals within the framework of a stakeholder dialogue. From 2017, measurable targets were defined for each country. 

Since it is extremely difficult to establish the connection between outcome and impact measurements, the NKG is practically oriented towards best practices: “In order to establish NKG as the first point of contact for sustainability in the raw coffee industry, we must demonstrate our contribution to achieving international and coffee-specific goals. With this in mind, we combine impact management with SDGs. We have already transferred parts of the UN goals to the business strategy, and we have identified our areas of activity,” explains Sonja König, referring to the first CR Report which will soon be published.

New software solution for CR management: The favour should be done to yourself

On the way to professional impact management, NKG also relies on a software-based solution that supports data acquisition, validation and consolidation. “You should definitely do yourself the favour of impact management software. We are pleased to have found a competent partner in WeSustain”, emphasises Sonja König. NKG is convinced of the support provided by the software, both in the holding company and locally. “WeSustain is a quantum leap from our original spreadsheets. The biggest advantage is that everyone works with the same database,” adds König.

The way is the destination – even for impact management

Even though long-term impact measurement in the coffee industry is still in its infancy, NKG’s message is clear: Sustainability is part of their business model. And even if the NKG is not subject to any reporting obligation nowadays, it sees a sustainability communication based on measurability as an opportunity even in B2B: “NKG’s strategic orientation for the coming years will focus on the value business. The proactive communication of our numerous values that are already created will make a considerable contribution to this”, confirms Sonja König. And so, the Neumann Kaffee Gruppe continues to lead the way in this field as well.

About the company:

The Neumann Kaffee Gruppe, headquartered in Hamburg, is the world’s leading raw coffee service provider. More than 2,200 employees in 49 companies in 27 countries are mainly active in the fields of export and import, quality processing and classification as well as cultivation and farm management. Now in its third generation, the company has been owner-managed since its origins in 1934.

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