Costa named “most ethical” coffee shop by consumers

Costa Coffee is the UK’s most ethical coffee shop – at least in the eyes of consumers. An independent panel of 3,121 consumers was given a choice of 100 major UK coffee chains and asked: “In your view, which of the following coffee shops is the most ethical?” Costa, which has far more outlets than any other brand, secured the most votes.

Amongst Costa’s green credentials is a roastery powered by 100% renewable energy. The Costa Foundation has also funded over 80 school projects and “changed the lives” of more than 75,000 children. The brand operates a UK-wide community programme, which enables and empowers their teams to volunteer their time to support good causes locally and to invite community groups to make use of its shops.

The chain has also diverted more than 7,000 tonnes of waste from landfill and removed 45 million plastic straws from its 2,600-plus stores. Last year, in the face of mounting criticism from campaigners, Costa also launched a recycling initiative that pays waste management companies to recover and recycle takeaway cups. Over 65 million cups have been recycled since its launch, the chain said, with other leading coffee and retail brands now joining the scheme.

Costa also took the title of “nation’s favourite coffee shop” in Allegra’s independent panel of consumers – 51.4% chose Costa from the list of 100 chains. It’s the ninth year in a row it’s won the accolade. “It is a brand that is very much part of the fabric of British lifestyles and one which has cemented its role as the nation’s second living room,” said Allegra founder and CEO, Jeffrey Young.

Allegra said that growing demand for experience-led hospitality has enabled coffee shops to offset recent challenges on the UK high street. Allegra’s latest Project Café UK report showed the coffee shop market to be worth £10.1 billion, with 25,483 outlets. The 7.9% annual sales increase cemented two decades of UK coffee shop growth, but economic turbulence caused by Brexit uncertainty continues to impede the sector.

Some 49% of industry leaders surveyed by Allegra indicated Brexit was negatively affecting their business, with 46% remaining neutral and 5% reporting a positive impact. Sixty nine per cent of those polled agreed Brexit was negatively impacting consumer confidence, while 87% of industry leaders surveyed believe Brexit has damaged the UK economy.

The latest edition of the market growth monitor from CGA and AlixPartners, published in February, showed Britain’s supply of casual dining restaurants dipped for the first time in nine years in 2018. Casual dining brands now appear to have peaked, the experts noted.

The news follows rising concerns about over-capacity in the restaurant sector. There are also mounting pressures on property, people and food costs, plus Brexit-related dents to business confidence. “We can expect to see further contraction in numbers over the course of 2019,” said CGA vice president Peter Martin.

There was better news for pubs and bars – especially those generating the majority of sales from drinks. Closures of drink-led pubs and bars averaged 3.6 a day in the last five years, but in the last 12 months the pace has slowed to 2.2 a day. This follows a strong 2018 for many pub operators: the hot summer weather, the football World Cup and the rising popularity of drinks including craft beer, cocktails and artisan spirits all played a part.

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