Forging a Sustainable Future: Innovations and Milestones in Coffee Research 2023

World Coffee Research Releases 2023 Annual Report

The newly released 2023 annual report from World Coffee Research (WCR) provides an insightful overview of the organization’s significant achievements and progress over the past year, highlighting major program areas and global initiatives.

A Brighter Future Through Innovation

In 2023, WCR reinforced its core mission: a brighter future for coffee through innovation. The organization’s team, spread across 17 countries, continued to generate actionable, science-based solutions for farmers and coffee-producing nations. This work is crucial in the face of climate change and the looming investment gap in agricultural research and development (R&D).

“Creating better coffee varieties gives farmers choices, fills consumers’ cups with joy, and creates the foundation for flourishing and sustainable coffee businesses for generations to come,” said Chief Executive Officer Dr. Jennifer “Vern” Long. “In short, innovation allows us to define the world we want to live in and to use science as a tool to get us there. This year, with strong backing from our member companies and national research partners around the world, we’ve forged ahead in this journey, making a brighter future not only possible but probable.”

2023 Global Highlights

This year, WCR made substantial progress across its four major program areas—breeding, trials, nursery, and global leadership:

  1. Breeding and Genetic Improvements
    • Arabica Breeding and the Innovea Network: Launched in 2022, the Innovea Global Coffee Breeding Network continued its work in 2023 by shipping and germinating 5,000 novel and genetically unique arabica seeds to six countries. The network aims to modernize variety improvement systems and provide farmers with more resilient and diverse coffee varieties.
    • Robusta Breeding: WCR laid the groundwork for a global robusta breeding network, conducting a comprehensive study on robusta genetic improvement and establishing a breeding collection at its research farm in El Salvador.
  2. Trials and Testing
    • F1 Hybrids Trial: Four hybrid candidates advanced to pre-commercial testing, with research trials showing up to 30% yield gains. The next phase of trials will begin in 2024.
    • International Multilocation Variety Trial (IMLVT): The world’s largest coffee variety trial, with 31 varieties and 50,000 plantlets across 22 sites in 15 countries, was extended for six years to continue data collection and analysis.
  3. Nursery and Seed Sector Work
    • In Latin America, WCR tested 28,540 tree samples from 81 seed lots for genetic purity and supported 22 seed lots for clean-up.
    • In Uganda, the organization established 10 demonstration robusta nurseries, trained 393 nursery operators, and supplied nearly 50,000 coffee wilt disease-resistant plants to farmers.
  4. Global Leadership and Advocacy
    • WCR expanded its advocacy efforts to include governments in Japan, Australia, Canada, Germany, and the EU. The organization participated in two international coffee development projects, targeting 103,700 farmer beneficiaries and investing $60 million.

Resources and Knowledge Sharing

WCR’s knowledge products, including the Coffee Varieties Catalog and Sensory Lexicon, were accessed over 150,000 times in 99 countries. New resources launched in 2023 include a robusta variety catalog and an open-access DNA fingerprinting database for arabica coffee.

Financial Overview

In 2023, contributions from the coffee industry totaled $4,056,000, supporting WCR’s various programs. The organization’s total expenditures were $5,419,000, with significant investments in breeding, trials, nursery, and global leadership.

Looking Ahead

WCR’s efforts in 2023 have laid a robust foundation for future advancements in coffee research. By addressing critical challenges such as climate change, genetic improvement, and the global investment gap, WCR is driving transformative change in the coffee industry. The collaborative approach involving global partners and member companies ensures a sustainable and prosperous future for coffee farmers and the entire supply chain.

To reflect on this past year’s progress and celebrate what’s to come for the future of coffee, access the full annual report on the World Coffee Research website. Spanish, German, and Japanese versions of the report will be available in the coming weeks.

Posted in :