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Announcing Enveritas as DRWakefield’s EUDR Partner

Since its announcement, the European Union Deforestation Regulations, or EUDR, have caused quite a stir in the coffee industry.

In this article, we explore some of the challenges coffee faces as the EUDR comes into force. We will explain how we are addressing these challenges as a business. And we will share why we have chosen Enveritas as our partner to help us tackle them.

EUDR

At its heart, the EUDR aims to address global deforestation by banning the import of seven different commodities into the European Union produced on deforested land.

Crucially for us, coffee is one of those commodities.

We all know how varied and diverse the coffee supply chain is. It’s one of the aspects, I think, that we all love about the industry. Coffee is grown by some 12.4 million smallholder producers globally. A number that brings with it an abundance of vibrancy to our cups and the stories behind them.

But, it’s also the diversity of coffee’s supply chain that makes implementing the EUDR particularly challenging. The more complex a supply chain is, the more complex it is to enforce traceability.

And for the European Deforestation Regulations, we need to get very traceable.

The EUDR introduces several new requirements on operators like DRWakefield placing coffee onto the European market. We covered these in our article in October last year, but it essentially boils down to this:

All coffee entering the European Union after December this year must be proven to be:

  • Deforestation Free
  • Produced in line with the relevant legislation of the country of production
  • Accompanied with a Due Diligence statement indicating no more than a negligible risk of non-compliance
  • Covered by a risk assessment to identify and mitigate potential risks

The Challenges of Geolocation

How will operators comply with the above requirements?

Firstly, we will need to start gathering more accurate data on where the coffee we buy comes from. Although we know the traceability of much of the coffee we source, from January 2025, every bag of coffee we bring into Europe must be traced back to the farm, where it was grown.

For this, we need to collect the geolocation data for all farms in our supply chain. The EUDR stipulates that for farms below 4 hectares, one data point is enough to cover this, such as longitude and latitude. For farms above 4 hectares, a polygon of 3 or more vertices is needed, such as a shapefile, or geospatial data format file, like a KML (Keyhole Markup Language).

For some of our coffees, like a single estate or farm, this is fairly straightforward. However, for a lot of our coffees, things aren’t so simple. We work with many cooperatives, where multiple producers contribute to the same lot of coffee. And we purchase coffees on a regional or grade basis, which can include any number of farms. At DRWakefield, we work with many suppliers in over 25 origins worldwide. Each supplier, in turn, works with many coffee producers. Our coffee supply chain spans thousands of coffee farms.

It is a challenge in itself for us at DRWakefield to collect and process this data. Especially as an independent business choosing to work with independent suppliers at origin. But it’s even more of a challenge further up the supply chain, where recording and collecting the raw data in the field can be hampered by the sheer number of geolocation points, a lack of access to the right technology, or guidance on the regulations themselves.

Multicropping at Santa Rosa, Colombia

Measurement and Mitigation

Once we’ve gathered our geolocation data, what happens next?

The second stage of our EUDR compliance is to measure the level of deforestation risk. To do this, we need to get technical.

Geospatial farm data is mapped using remote sensing and satellite-based analysis. The satellite image of each farm at the time of production is compared against historic satellite data to identify any potential forest cover change or deforestation. Identified risks of deforestation after the 2021 cutoff date are flagged and remedial and/or mitigation measures are taken to ensure coffee from that farm is not included in EU shipments.

Collecting the raw data is one thing, but to deliver the second phase of EUDR compliance, we needed to find a partner to help us accurately measure and identify risk areas within our supply chain.

Determining which provider was the best fit for DRWakefield took some time. The answer came down to something that we try and apply to all our decisions – doing the right thing. Finding the right partner was a balance of making the right choice for our business, but also the right choice for our suppliers and our customers.

Enveritas

We are pleased to announce that we have chosen Enveritas as our EUDR partner.

Enveritas is a non-profit organisation with a background in coffee and a focus on farmers. Since its establishment in 2016, Enveritas has provided sustainability assurance for the coffee and cocoa industries, focusing on enabling the world’s smallholder farmers to access responsible sourcing markets. To date, Enveritas has verified sustainable practices at more than 350,000 smallholder farms around the world.

The reasons we feel Enveritas are the right fit for us, our suppliers and customers, are that they offer refreshing solutions to many of EUDR’s challenges while appreciating the supply chain’s complexity and acknowledging the realities of delivering the EU’s regulatory compliance.

Alongside its experience and expertise in coffee, two things put Enveritas at an advantage over the competition: access to high resolution satellite technology and people in the field.

David Browning, CEO of Enveritas said in a recent interview, “[Enveritas] found traditional approaches to measuring deforestation were using satellites that have been around since the late 1990s and had about a 30-metre resolution. Modern satellites offer far higher resolution”. The modern satellites he mentions here come with a resolution of 0.5 metres, as opposed to the 30 metre resolution of the open-source platform Global Forest Watch. Modern, high-resolution satellite solutions like these provide significantly more granularity and, therefore, accuracy on identifying coffee-linked deforestation on farms of all sizes.

The higher resolution provides more accurate data. But when underpinned with Enveritas’ sophisticated deep learning models, it becomes an even more powerful tool. Enveritas employs a team of 600 field workers who visit over 99,500 coffee farms across more than 28 countries every year in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. On each farm visit, over 500 unique data points are collected. This data can be used to reinforce the algorithm that identifies coffee-linked deforestation, a process known as ‘ground truthing’, which further increases verification accuracy and efficiency.

The heightened levels of accuracy and identification make the Enveritas system superior to other models we explored. It will enable us to analyse the spectrum of coffee farms within our supply chain accurately and, therefore, fairly, and will give us the confidence to determine whether deforestation has indeed taken place on a plot of land in our supply chain. This safeguards the suppliers and producers we work with from any false positives and ourselves and our customers in Europe from any false negatives.

Palmital, Brazil

What’s Next?

We have already started the lengthy process of collecting the geolocation data for our supply chain. For some coffees, we won’t know this until the time of shipment, but for others, we’re able to do preliminary checks on farms to ensure coffee is EUDR compliant. Either way, we are confident we’ll have all the information gathered and processes ironed out by the time it comes to shipping EUDR coffee into the EU. As we get up and running on the Enveritas portal, we can start building a full understanding of our supply chain, giving us a broad picture of our global coffee supply on a macro level, and individual farm compliance on the micro level.

There is, however, another twist in the tale with Enveritas. One that could turn the challenges of EUDR on its head.

As Enveritas turned its modern satellites and learning models to the EUDR issue, it discovered that older satellite models have been misclassifying deforestation on coffee farms and that coffee-linked deforestation is much less than initially thought. So much so, that it opens up some interesting opportunities to address the challenges of EUDR in a broader sense. Back to Enveritas CEO, David Browning – “once we saw that there was less coffee-linked deforestation than previously thought, we saw an opportunity to work in collaboration with governments and the private sector.”

In bringing the number of actual deforestation on coffee farms down to a fraction of global supply chain, Enveritas suggests that it is possible to remove all non-compliant products from the supply chains completely, deeming entire countries EUDR compliant. Since exploring this approach, Enveritas has already agreed partnerships with governments in seven producing countries, with more in the pipeline, and has assisted in the first shipment of EUDR-compliant coffee from Costa Rica to Europe.

This collaborative endeavour is no mean feat, as it would mean mapping out every coffee farm in the world. But Enveritas is already ahead of the curve. By the end of 2024, the organisation aims to cover almost all coffee origins, representing 98% of production. If Enveritas were to get this over the line, could this be the EUDR panacea the coffee industry has been looking for?

Time will tell. But it certainly proposes a fresh interpretation of the regulations and an opportunity for coffee to lead the pack on EUDR. As Browning himself says, “the coffee industry can become a shining light on sustainability, which would be incredibly beneficial to all the other profound problems the world faces.”

For the moment, however, we can rest assured that our own supply chain is in safe hands, and we are in good stead to deliver on the EUDR in time for Christmas.

If you have any questions, concerns or comments about EUDR you can contact the DRWakefield EUDR working group on EUDR@drwakefield.com.