Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), TransFair USA, and the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) today announced a groundbreaking initiative. Starbucks, one of the largest buyers of Fair Trade Certified coffee, will double its purchases to 40 million pounds in 2009, making the company the largest purchaser of Fair Trade Certified coffee in the world. Marking a new phase in their nine-year relationship with Starbucks, TransFair USA and FLO will join Conservation International as key partners in the Starbucks Shared Planet commitment to ethical sourcing.

“We strongly believe that, by working together, Starbucks and the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International can accomplish so much more for coffee farmers and the coffee industry,” says Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman, president and CEO.

As part of this commitment, Starbucks, TransFair USA, and FLO will explore integrating the verification process for Fair Trade Certified coffee and Starbucks Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices. This will increase the efficiency of individual farm inspections and enhance the positive impact of the programs on small-scale coffee farmers, their communities and the environment. Also central to Starbucks effort to source ethically traded coffee will be an expansion of their work with Fair Trade farmers to enhance coffee quality and profitability through improved environmental and agricultural practices. To accomplish this they will leverage Starbucks Farmer Support Centers in Costa Rica and Africa, as well as current investments in programs that provide farmers access to credit.

“This commitment from Starbucks could not have come at a better time for coffee farmers as they face the threat of climate change, higher prices and brace themselves for a global slowdown,” says Rob Cameron, CEO of FLO. “The partnership combines the expertise of Fairtrade in delivering grassroots-based farmer and consumer empowerment in global markets, with Starbucks incentive-based program for improvement of coffee quality and farmer incomes. Together, we believe we can forge a model of trade for sustainable development that the coffee industry has never before seen.”

“Starbucks announcement to double their Fair Trade Certified commitment in 2009 shows tremendous leadership. This dramatic volume increase will have a far-reaching positive impact in coffee growing communities throughout the developing world–it will send kids to school, bring clean water to farming communities and enable struggling farmers to put food on the table,” says Paul Rice, president and CEO of TransFair USA. “Starbucks Shared Planet initiative empowers consumers to make ethical decisions about the coffee they drink, and support the farmers that produce it.”

News, Starbucks