Ethical Coffee Company aims to beat Nespresso

Ethical Coffee Company

The Ethical Coffee Company (ECC) has launched a campaign in Geneva vowing to overtake Nespresso in Swiss coffee capsule sales in three years.

The company’s president Jean-Paul Gaillard made the bold claim on Monday, while promoting his brand from a streetcar plastered with ECC advertising.

Ethical Coffee’s capsules, advertised as the only biodegradable ones available, have been introduced progressively into the Swiss market since a Vaud cantonal court in October 2014 lifted a ruling regarding copyright infringement alleged by Nespresso.

“If there are no other obstacles, we will overtake Nespresso in three years,” Gaillard is quoted as saying by the ATS news agency.

Ironically, as former CEO of Nespresso, he is credited with the initial success of the Lausanne-based Nestlé brand, which sells capsules designed for its system of espresso machines.

But Gaillard said there are environmental problems with Nespresso’s capsules, made of plastic and aluminium.

“To package five grams of coffee in polluting packaging is indefensible when alternatives exist,” Gaillard said, according to ATS.

“Our children want a planet that is more clean,” he said, adding that he believed in environmentalism.

Nespresso, meanwhile, has introduced recycling bins in Switzerland to collect its used capsules.

Ethical Coffee is initially selling its Nespresso-compatible products in Switzerland at Media Markt and Aligro stores.

Switzerland’s major retailers Migros and Coop, meanwhile, are selling their own coffee capsules, made of plastic.

But Gaillard said he is in distribution talks again with Coop, interrupted for three years because of demands from Nestlé, which launched legal action against ECC in several countries, including France, Germany and Switzerland.

But Nespresso patents began to expire in 2012.

So far, ECC has won the legal battles.

And now Gaillard to is hoping to make further advances through marketing, although that may be a tall order given the success of Nespresso’s ad campaigns, featuring Hollywood superstar George Clooney.

“Consumers must speak up and put pressure on the big chains to respect their environmental commitments,” Gaillard is quoted as saying.

ECC is selling its capsules around 20 percent cheaper than Nespresso for what it bills as the “best espresso in the world”.

The company has not disclosed sales figures.

But Gaillard said the company, which produces its capsules in Ville-la-Grand in the Haute-Savoie region of France, employs 170 people and is benefiting from a “strong rate of growth”.

Gaillard founded ECC in 2008 in Lausanne and launched its first Nespresso-compatible capsules in 2009 in France through the Casino supermarket chain.

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