Finding Answers to Today’s Top 5 Challenges

By Kyra Auffermann, National Coffee Association


Our industry is facing a range of unprecedented challenges. The coffee supply chain is incredibly complex – and interconnected. This can create a lot of uncertainty for businesses trying to succeed in such a competitive market.

But with a shift in perspective – and by asking the right questions – potential problems can become opportunities.

Check out the following list of the top challenges facing coffee companies today. (And if you’re interested in learning more, join leaders from across the industry at the NCA Coffee Summit, Oct. 26-28, Miami, FL.)

1. Keeping top talent

Your organization is only as strong as your team. But as unemployment rates drop, more professionals are hopping between jobs. High turnover is disruptive (and expensive) for employers.

Years ago, it was enough to offer staff members a solid salary and benefits. But that’s changing as Millennials take over the workforce – with an entirely different set of expectations, values, and motivations.

Millennials want their work to reflect a larger purpose, in addition to perks. Understanding this shifting dynamic will help you attract and retain these employees, and better understand your customers.

2. Developing leadership

“One primary reason that organizations thrive is the leader’s mental model and approach to leading,” Laura Freebairn Smith, Coffee Summit 2016 facilitator and session leader, explains in this post.

Strong leadership is your ultimate resource. It can drive organizations, inspire innovation, and reveal new opportunities for growth.

Whether you’re the new intern or an established executive, there are skills and techniques you can learn to effect change through action and influence – both in your business, and across the industry.

3. Following new food safety regulations

New FSMA regulations are beginning to roll out this fall. These policy changes are based on disease prevention and mitigation of risk – vs. the old-school approach of cleaning up (literally and figuratively) after the outbreak of foodborne disease.

This implementation process is likely to go on for years to come. Failure to understand what’s at stake, what’s ahead, and what are your current obligations could put your organization at risk for serious fines.

Education is critical – especially for the people who will serve as your front line of defense.

That’s why the NCA is launching our first FSMA Training Seminar as a prelude to this year’s Coffee Summit, in addition to the Summit’s general overview of the regulations. Participants will receive a certificate of participation as a FSMA “Qualified Individual,” and the tools to better prepare their organizations for whatever comes next.

4. Understanding unprecedented labor laws

The recently enacted Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (TFTA) allows the immediate seizure of coffee shipments that are believed to violate new rules concerning labor practices at origin. Coffee companies need to understand what compliance means for their supply practices – before problems arise.

There are many uncertainties – as of this writing, implementing regulations for the new law haven’t yet been drafted – making it all the more important to understand the steps your competitors are taking to comply.

5. Reaching the right consumers

Coffee is a thriving business, but there still opportunities for growth. Where should you focus your marketing efforts for maximum impact?

According to the 2016 National Coffee Drinking Trends (NCDT) report, Hispanic-Americans consume more coffee than any other ethnic group – and are also more likely to try new specialty coffee or espresso beverages. This rapidly growing, upwardly mobile demographic is driving U.S. coffee consumption.

However, communicating across cultures is more complicated than translating your tagline. You need to connect with your customers on their terms, in ways that they find meaningful.

Coffee Summit 2016: The Business of Coffee

The NCA’s Coffee Summit 2016 is designed to give professionals from across the industry the tools to make smarter, more strategic decisions for their business.

This year’s event will address each of these issues, in addition to offering collaborative problem-solving and intimate networking opportunities.

Coffee Summit is a unique format – a mix of interactive workshops and expert-led presentations – so participants can learn from their peers, share ideas, and get beyond the “talking heads” to real, hands-on advice.


Kyra Auffermann is the manager of digital content at the National Coffee Association



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