Switzerland's biggest retailer hopes its new balls of compressed coffee will challenge Nespresso coffee pods

100% compostable coffee balls claim Nespresso title

Largest Swiss retailer hopes its new pressed coffee balls will challenge Nespresso pods – Copyright AFP Wojtek RADWANSKI

The largest Swiss retailer unveiled on Tuesday a new invention of the coffee machine – fully compostable coffee balls, which it hopes will shake up the global market and take over Nespresso’s global dominance.

Supermarket chain Migros hopes that its innovation will capitalize on consumer concern for the environment by eliminating the aluminum and plastic waste of conventional coffee capsules.

The new pods are not capsules, but balls of pressed coffee covered with a thin film of algae.

With its new system, which took five years to develop, Migros is placing its tanks on the lawns of its Swiss compatriot Nestle, a giant in the coffee pod sector with its Nespresso brand.

The machines and coffee balls have been on sale in Switzerland and France since Tuesday, but interest in other countries is “already huge,” chief executive Fabrice Zumbrunnen said at a presentation in Zurich, pending wider adoption.

There are other compostable coffee pods on the market, but Migros believes this is the first system to use biodegradable pellets.

The balls must be used in the Migros CoffeeB system and are not compatible with other coffee machines.

Switzerland’s largest employer said the new development was a response to consumers’ growing environmental awareness, saying that around 63 billion coffee capsules are sold worldwide each year, generating around 100,000 tonnes of waste.

Migros is currently a small player in the market.

According to market analysts at Euromonitor International, the market share of its Cafe Royal brand in Western Europe was capped at 0.3% in 2021, compared to 12.1% for Nespresso alone, while Nestle also owns the Nescafe and Dolce Gusto brands.

But Migros is hoping its compostable coffee system will increase market share.

It states that the coffee beans used to make the biodegradable balls come from sustainable, fair trade and organic certified crops.

The boxes that the balls come in look like egg cartons and are made from recyclable materials. According to Migros, the coffee machines themselves are mostly made from recycled materials.

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