Experts talk sustainability in private label coffee and tea

Experts from Club Coffee, Boxed and TXB talked sustainability in the coffee and tea category at the Sept. 29 Store Brands Industry Forum on Beverages, now on demand for viewing.
Zachary Russell
Associate Editor
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Claudio Gemmiti

The private label coffee & tea market is rapidly growing and changing, with much of that change being focused around sustainability, according to experts at the Store Brands Industry Forum on Beverages held virtually Sept. 29.

The forum provided retailers a chance to listen and connect with private label industry experts. Hosted by Store Brands executive editor Dan Ochwat, the beverage forum consisted of four sections: coffee and tea, dairy, nonalcoholic beverages and alcoholic beverages.

The event, now available on demand, kicked off with a keynote address and was followed by a discussion on the latest developments in private label coffee and tea. Ochwat spoke with Kevin Smartt, CEO of TXB, Brandon Wehmeyer, formerly director of private brands for Boxed, and Claudio Gemmiti, chief innovation officer at Club Coffee, the event’s sponsor.

“Sustainability in coffee is becoming more and more popular, the customers want it,” said Gemmiti. “The big un-met need that we have been focusing on is sustainable packaging and where we can make a difference. Bringing innovation to the marketplace is not easy.”


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Brandon Wehmeyer

Gemmiti then displayed a certified compostable coffee pod that Club Coffee produces, along with a paper-based coffee bag, to show where the category is headed when it comes to sustainability.

“Sustainable packaging shouldn’t all be compostable. The paper-based bag is highly recyclable, and it keeps the freshness of the coffee. The big eyesore in coffee right now is that so much of the coffee comes in plastic bags that aren’t recyclable and won’t be any time soon.”

Boxed, an online club retailer, recently developed its private label ground coffee cups and whole bean coffee products with sustainability in mind.

“We’ve made the commitment that going forward all of our coffees are going to be fair trade certified,” said Wehmeyer, who recently announced on LinkedIn that he's leaving the company. “When we developed our coffee, we knew customers expected some form of sustainability. We’re making sure everything we’re bringing to market fits that criteria.”

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Kevin Smartt

Convenience chain TXB recently changed its foodservice products to paper-based from plastic and foam, but is still looking for ways to continue the sustainability trend within its hot beverage segment.

“Everything is recyclable if we can do it, our TXB brand K-Cups are compostable,” said Smartt. “Being a private label brand with 50 stores is quite an achievement. For us it’s a journey in converting all of these things over, and it’s tremendous how many things it touches in our store. The opportunities are endless to do a better job.”

Those already registered for the Store Brands Industry Forum on Beverages can watch a webcast of the panel here, and it is available on demand for any non-registered viewer as well.