Pret A Manger has been named the top foodservice business for Responsible Sourcing at the fifth annual Footprint Awards.

The award was presented to the company for its work in setting up the Pret Coffee Fund in Peru; a project created to train and educate young co-operative members to help them farm more effectively whilst maintaining organic standards.

Pret now sells over a million cups of organic coffee every week, with up to 60% of the beans in its blend coming from Peru.

The company’s head of Coffee Strategy, Chris MacEwan said: “Coffee is a fundamental part of the Pret business, and commitment to sourcing our coffee responsibly is a necessity for us not a choice. However we want to go further than just sourcing quality organic coffee beans, we want to be able make a real, practical difference to the futures of the farmers we source from.

“Through our visits to Peru we witnessed a consistent issue that faced small plot farmers; an ageing farmer population. This was a result of more and more young people moving away from farming areas and into urban centres for employment and higher pay, a lack of knowledge around developing farming techniques, and insufficient development of alternative income streams.

“We felt that training and education could create a positive change, so we developed the Pret Coffee Fund with Twin and Cenfrocafe to help enable this.”

Ninety-five students took part in the first year of the scheme, and this year the Pret Coffee Fund has committed a further £114k to support the Cenfrocafe co-operative.

In addition to developing organic fertiliser production, the funding will be used to train young co-operative members in areas including: Co-operative organisation and business management, sustainable coffee practices and quality assurance and an entrepreneurial development competition with seed funding for winning projects.

Pret intends to extend the programme to other origin countries from its coffee blend in the next two years.