Keurig Green Mountain

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Keurig Green Mountain
Formerly called
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (1981–2014)
Public corporation
Traded as NASDAQGMCR
S&P 500 Component
Industry Processed & Packaged Goods
Founded Waitsfield, Vermont, U.S. (1981 (1981))[1]
Founder Robert P. Stiller[2]
Headquarters Waterbury, Vermont, U.S.
Key people
Brian Kelley, President and CEO[2]
Products Coffee makers and pods
Beverages (coffee, tea, cocoa)
Revenue
  • Increase US$ 4,707.7  million (2014) [3]
  • Increase US$ 4,358.1 million (2013)[4]
  • Increase US$ 947.241 million (2014)[3]
  • Increase US$ 765.227 million (2013)[4]
  • Increase US$ 596.518 million (2014)[3]
  • Increase US$ 483.232 million (2013)[4]
Total assets
  • Increase US$ 4,797.307 million (2014)[3]
  • Increase US$ 3,761.548 million (2013)[4]
Total equity
  • Increase US$ 3,458.681 million (2014)[3]
  • Increase US$ 2,635.57 million (2013)[4]
Number of employees
6,600 (2014)[3]
Website KeurigGreenMountain.com

Keurig Green Mountain, formerly Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, is a publicly traded specialty coffee and coffeemaker company founded in 1981 and headquartered in the U.S. It sources, produces, and sells coffee, hot cocoa, teas, and other beverages under various brands in portion packs for its Keurig brewing systems; and sells coffee beans and ground coffee in bags and fractional packs. It sells many of its beverage varieties in K-Cup single-serve pods, and as of 2015 offers Vue, Rivo, Bolt, and K-Carafe pods as well.

Through its own and its partnership licensed brands, the company offers over 400 different varieties of coffee and other beverage selections. These include coffees that are certified organic, Fair Trade Certified, specialty blends, and flavored coffees and beverages.

Begun as a small specialty coffee roaster and store in Vermont in 1981, after regional and national expansion in the late 1980s and an IPO in 1993, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters completed its acquisition of the brewing-machine manufacturer Keurig, Inc. in 2006, enabling rapid growth through the high-margin sales of its many varieties of single-serve K-Cup pods for home and office use. GMCR changed its name to Keurig Green Mountain in March 2014.

The company is headquartered in Waterbury, Vermont. Its Canadian business unit subsidiary operates as Keurig Canada Inc.

History[edit]

Beginnings[edit]

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters had its inception when entrepreneur Bob Stiller discovered a cup of coffee so good near a Vermont ski resort that he sought out the source of the coffee. In 1981 he and a partner bought a two-thirds stake in the small specialty coffee roasting company in Waitsfield, Vermont that produced the roasted beans.[5] The store and cafe sold beans, grounds, and coffee to the public and a few restaurants.[6] At a time when premium, specialty, or gourmet coffee was still rare, Stiller dedicated himself to coffee-roasting, using exclusively arabica coffee beans.[7] By 1982 the company had around 30 employees, and moved its production facilities to Waterbury, Vermont.[8]

Stiller bought out his two partners for $100,000 and became sole proprietor of the company within two years of his original purchase,[5] but it took four years to turn a profit.[5][6] To grow the business Stiller sold the coffee to high-end restaurants and gas stations alike, and since he couldn't afford advertising, he gave out free samples. In 1986, he launched a mail-order business which he advertised in gourmet magazines, and acquired his first supermarket-chain customer, Kings.[8]

Stiller embraced technology very early on – to track customers' orders; to regulate roasting-heat levels appropriate to each bag; and to track distribution, manufacturing, sales, and personnel (adopting PeopleSoft in 1997).[5] The company also began to embrace an environmental and socially responsible ethos very quickly; by 1983 employees composted used coffee grounds at its retail stores, and by 1986 Green Mountain introduced its first organic coffee in a retail market test.[8] Environmentalism, sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and fair trade soon were overarching policies Green Mountain became well known for. It is one of the largest suppliers of double-certified fair-trade and organic coffee in the world.[9][10]

Expansion[edit]

As American tastes in coffee changed, sales of Green Mountain roasted coffee beans grew.[7] In 1991 GMCR had seven retail outlets, 1,000 wholesale clients, $11 million in sales, and $200,000 in profits.[6] By 1993, the company had 2,400 wholesale accounts and sales of about $10 million,[6] and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. started trading publicly, under the ticker "GMCR". The company expanded its retail locations, food-service distribution, mail-order business, and wholesale business.[6]

In 1994, Green Mountain began exporting to Canada and Taiwan.[6] In the late 1990s it broadened its national supermarket chain distribution, gas-station and convenience-store distribution throughout the northeast, and it sold its product in airlines and Amtrak, specialty coffee stores, and venues such as LL Bean, Weight Watchers International, and Staples.[6][8]

Keurig and the launch of K-Cups with Green Mountain Coffee[edit]

In 1993, the three engineering entrepreneurs from a Massachusetts start-up called Keurig had approached GMCR about developing a single-cup coffee brewing system, and Green Mountain had first invested in the nascent company at that time.[8][11] In 1996 GMCR invested further in Keurig, buying a 35% interest in the company.[5][12] In 1997, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters became the first roaster to offer coffee in a K-Cup pod for the Keurig Single-Cup Brewing System,[8] and in 1998 Keurig delivered its first brewing system, designed for office use.[13] The launch of the first K-Cups with Green Mountain Coffee helped GMCR begin to further compete with the ubiquitous presence of Starbucks, by allowing people to brew their own single servings of premium coffee.

Also in 1997, a deal with Poland Spring opened the office-worker market by distributing Green Mountain Coffee to thousands of offices in the Northeast.[6] In 1998 GMCR closed its 12 retail shops in favor of the burgeoning direct-mail and online market, its growing distributions to business offices and other national venues, and its wholesale market.[5][6][14] That year it signed an exclusive deal with American Skiing Company, offered its first corporate gifts catalogue, sold its certified organic coffee in ExxonMobil's national and international On the Run convenience stores, and expanded its supermarket distribution to 500 stores.[6] In 1999 it expanded its export market, including to Great Britain.[6]

In 2000, Green Mountain reached an agreement to promote and sell fair trade coffee, committing to making at least 3% of its sales fair trade–certified by TransFair USA.[14][15] In 2001, the company acquired Frontier Organic Coffee,[16] and in 2002, it signed an agreement to sell fair trade coffee under the Newman's Own Organics label.[17] In late 2005 GMCR reached a deal to sell its Newman's Own Organics Blend coffee in more than 600 McDonald's restaurants in New England and upstate New York.[18]

Acquisition of Keurig, Inc.[edit]

In 2006, Green Mountain – which had successively invested in and acquired increasing percentage ownership of Keurig, Inc. in 1993, 1996, and 2003, by which time it had a 43% ownership – completed its full acquisition of the single-cup brewing systems manufacturer.[12] The successive acquisition allowed Green Mountain to adopt a multi-brand portfolio, and multichannel distribution of brands in a variety of settings, with numerous opportunities for consumers to try individual brands by the cup.[19] It also fueled enormous revenue growth, and allowed GMCR to transition fully from deriving 95% of its revenue from its low-margin wholesale coffee business in the late 1990s (approximately $65 million), to deriving 95% of its revenue from high-margin sales of K-Cups as of 2014 (more than $4.3 billion).[20]

Green Mountain also acquired the four additional Keurig licensees, Tully's Coffee, Timothy's World Coffee, Diedrich Coffee, and Van Houtte, in 2009 and 2010.[21][22] In March 2009 it purchased Seattle-based Tully's brand and its wholesale coffee business for $40.3 million.[19][23] In November 2009, Green Mountain acquired the wholesale division of Canadian coffee provider Timothy's for $157 million.[24] It purchased the California-based Diedrich Coffee in December 2009 for $290 million.[25] In 2010, Green Mountain Coffee bought the Canadian distributor, Quebec-based coffee services company Van Houtte, for $915 million.[26] GMCR Canada was founded in 2010, and officially became the Canadian Business Unit of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. in 2011; it has been known as Keurig Canada Inc. since March 2014.[13][27]

On September 28, 2010, the company's stock rose to what was then an all-time high, but the company disclosed after the markets closed that the Securities and Exchange Commission had requested documents and data related to an inquiry into how it accounted for revenue.[28] The company announced that U.S. regulators had inquired into some of Green Mountain's accounting practices, including revenue recognition, and the large inventory with a single vendor, M. Block and Sons, Inc. Most analysts felt that the company practices were sound.[29] The SEC ended the probe in October 2014, and brought no enforcement action against Green Mountain or its employees.[30][31]

In February 2011 Green Mountain announced an agreement with Dunkin' Donuts to make Dunkin’ Donuts coffee available in single-serve K-Cup pods for use with Keurig Single-Cup Brewers. In addition, participating Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants on occasion offer Keurig Single-Cup Brewers for sale.[32] In March 2011, Green Mountain Coffee and Starbucks announced a similar deal whereby Starbucks would sell its coffee and tea in Keurig single-serve pods, and would in return sell Keurig machines in their stores as part of the deal.[33]

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters introduced the Keurig Vue brewer, paired with new Vue packs, in February 2012,[34] seven months before patents on the K-Cup expired in September 2012.[35] The Vue system was announced as having customizable features so consumers had control over the strength, size, and temperature of their beverages, and the Vue pack is made of recyclable #5 plastic.[34] In November 2012, GMCR released its espresso, cappucino, and latte brewer, the Rivo, co-developed with the Italian coffee company Lavazza.[36] In the fall of 2013, the company released a full-pot brewer, the Keurig Bolt, for use mainly in offices.[37]

In February 2014, The Coca-Cola Company purchased a 10% stake in the company, valued at $1.25 billion, with an option to increase their stake to 16%, which was exercised in May 2014.[38] The partnership is part of Coca-Cola's support of a new cold beverage system being developed by Keurig that will allow customers to make Coca-Cola brand beverages at home.[38] In January 2015, the company made a similar deal with Dr Pepper Snapple Group, but without a stockholder stake.[39] The company's primary competitor in this market area is SodaStream.[39]

In early March 2014, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters shareholders voted to change its name to Keurig Green Mountain to reflect its business of selling Keurig coffee makers.[40] Its stock-market symbol remains "GMCR".[41]

In the fall of 2014, Keurig Green Mountain introduced the Keurig 2.0 brewer, with technology to prevent old or unlicensed pods being used in the brewer.[42] The digital lock-out sparked hacking attempts and anti-trust lawsuits.[43][44][45][46] The 2.0 brewer also has the capacity to brew full carafes in addition to single servings,[47][48] via the use of the new K-Carafe portion pack.[49]

Corporate affairs[edit]

Sustainability[edit]

GMCR began to embrace an environmental ethos within two years of its founding, and environmentalism and sustainability were overarching policies for which Green Mountain became well known. Among other initiatives within Green Mountain's first decade, in 1983 employees began composting used coffee grounds at its retail stores; in 1986 the company introduced its first organic coffee in a retail market test;[8] in 1989 it formed an Employee Environmental Committee, and began a recycling program;[8] and in 1990 it introduced Rain Forest Nut coffee to sponsor rainforest preservation, donating 10% of the product's profits to Conservation International and the Rainforest Alliance, and it introduced the first earth-friendly, oxygen-whitened, dioxin-free coffee filters.[8] In 1992 it formed a Stewardship Program to promote sustainability and sound environmental practices;[8][50][51] in 1997 it pioneered the first biodegradable bag for bulk coffee purchases;[8] and in 2006 it introduced the ecotainer, a to-go cup for hot beverages made entirely out of renewable materials.[52][53]

In 2005, Green Mountain was the first coffee company to support the United Nations' Global Reporting Initiative mission to develop globally accepted sustainability reporting guidelines.[54] In 2008 GMCR's board of directors added a social and environmental responsibility committee.[54] During that time period GMCR also established a vice president for environmental affairs reporting directly to the CEO.[54] As of 2015, Keurig Green Mountain has a Chief Sustainability Officer.[55]

The company offsets 100% of its direct greenhouse gases,[56] and prioritizes waste reduction and responsible energy use, and sustainability over the life-cycle of its products.[52][57][58] In addition to other awards and recognition for sustainable practices,[59] GMCR was on Sustainable Business‍ '​s "World's Top 20 Sustainable Business Stocks" annually from 2002–2007,[60][61][62][63] and as of 2015 it is on the EPA's National Top 100 of green power users in the U.S.[64] In 2014, Keurig Green Mountain announced a multi-faceted effort to address the long-term challenges of the global water crisis, and instituted an initial commitment of $11 million to support nonprofits working to promote water security.[65]

Environmental advocates and journalists have criticized the company for the billions of non-recyclable and non-biodegradable K-Cups consumers purchase and dispose of every year,[66][67] and for the dichotomy between the company's historic environmentally conscious image and the impact of K-Cups on the environment.[68][69][70][71] GMCR's vice president of sustainability stated in 2013 that "The system has a lot of pretty demanding technical requirements in terms of being able to withstand certain amount of temperature and to have a certain kind of rigidity, and provide the right kinds of moisture barriers and oxygen barriers and the like. So it isn't the simplest challenge."[72] In 2015, the company's chief sustainability officer stated that every new K-Cup spin-off product introduced since 2006 – including the Vue, Bolt, and K-Carafe cups – is recyclable if disassembled into paper, plastic, and metal components.[73] In its 2014 Sustainability Report, released in February 2015, Keurig Green Mountain re-affirmed that a priority for the company is ensuring that 100% of K-Cup pods are recyclable by 2020.[57][58][74][75][76]

Corporate social responsibility[edit]

From its inception, and in tandem with its environmentally conscious outlook, Green Mountain has had a culture grounded in social responsibility, community mindedness, philanthropy, and respect for employees.[77] Among other recognition and awards for its corporate social responsibility (CSR),[59] GMCR was in the top ten of the "100 Best Corporate Citizens" each year from 2003–2007, and was ranked #1 in 2006 and 2007.[78][79] GMCR was not under consideration for the ranking in 2008, because the focus switched to exclusively large-cap companies.[80] It re-entered the "100 Best Corporate Citizens" list in 2010[81] and 2013.[82] In 2005, Green Mountain released its first Corporate Social Responsibility Report.[83] In 2008 GMCR's board of directors added a social and environmental responsibility committee overseeing the company’s social responsibilities.[54] It also established a vice president for corporate social responsibility who reports directly to the CEO.[54] In addition to its environmental oversight, the company's Sustainability Committee focuses on areas including the financial and environmental viability, health, and resiliency of its coffee-growing and manufacturing supply chains; community outreach; and corporate and employee social responsibility and awareness.[54][84][85][86]

GMCR was a pioneer in the Fair Trade movement in 2000,[69][87][88] guaranteeing farmers a steady minimum price far above market value.[87] Since 2010 Green Mountain has been the largest purchaser of Fair Trade coffee in the world.[69][87][89] In addition, the company was from its beginnings known for its long-term relationships and fair dealings with coffee-growing suppliers,[77][88] and for its large percentage of farmer-direct coffee purchases.[87][90] Since the early 1990s, the company has annually sent groups of employees on trips to coffee farms in Latin America, to gain first-hand experience in the lives of coffee growers.[77][87][91] GMCR has prioritized initiatives to alleviate poverty and hunger in coffee-growing communities.[92] These include Coffee Kids, an international non-profit which improves the lives of children and families in remote coffee-growing villages;[87][93] and the FomCafe cooperative’s quality-control training program, which helps farmers earn higher profits for coffee.[87] In 2002 GMCR was the first corporate investor of the non-profit micro-loan organization Root Capital,[94] and through it Green Mountain has provided millions of dollars in loans to cash-strapped coffee farmers.[52][83][95] In 2002 Green Mountain also formed a joint alliance with the U.S. Agency for International Development, to improve the livelihoods of those in impoverished coffee-growing regions.[87]

Internally, GMCR has cultivated and maintained a flat corporate culture, where employee buy-in, enthusiasm and vision, collaboration, and input is important.[96] The company offers employees continuous training and development opportunities;[97] tuition for outside education; profit-sharing; financial education; and continuous career-advancement support.[19] Employees are paid for up to 52 hours of volunteer work in their community per year.[93][98] GMCR has been on Forbes‍ '​ list of Best Small Companies five times, and has been recognized as a "Best Place to Work" in HR Magazine.[98]

Business segments and brands[edit]

Keurig Green Mountain operates in two business segments: domestic and Canada.[3][99] The domestic segment produces and sells coffee, hot cocoa, teas and other beverages, to be prepared hot or cold, in Keurig pods; it also sells coffee in traditional packaging, including whole beans and ground coffee in bags, and ground coffee in fractional packs. It also sells patented Keurig single-cup brewing systems for use both at home and away from home.[3][99]

The Canadian business unit – Keurig Canada Inc. – sells Keurig brewers, and produces and sells coffees, teas, and other beverages in a variety of packaging formats, including Keurig pods, as well as coffee in traditional packaging such as bags, cans, and fractional packs.[3][99] It sells under a variety of brands, including Van Houtte, Brulerie St. Denis, Brulerie Mont-Royal, and Orient Express, and its licensed Bigelow and Wolfgang Puck brands.[100]

Through its owned brands and through its partnerships and licensing, Keurig Green Mountain's K-Cup pods offer more than 400 varieties of coffee, tea, and other beverages from 60 brands, including the top ten best-selling coffee brands in the U.S.[101][102]

Corporate governance[edit]

Founder Bob Stiller was president and CEO of the company from its inception in 1981 until 2007, when he stepped down but remained chairman until May 2012.[103][104] Lawrence J. Blanford became Green Mountain's president and CEO in 2007.[103][105] Brian Kelley, previously chief product supply officer of Coca-Cola Refreshments, became the company's president and CEO in December 2012.[106][107]

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