Ingredients and raw materials with a sustainability certificate
MSC or ASC for fish, FSC for wood and paper, RSPO for palm oil, UTZ or Rainforest Alliance for cocoa and coffee, GOTS for cotton, Fairtrade, the European Organic Label ... For many of the most widely sold raw materials today, there is a recognised sustainability certificate. Or more than one! To ‘earn’ such a certificate, a producer must comply with a recognised standard with a number of criteria, such as ecology, animal welfare, fair pay, etc. When our buyers buy certified raw materials, they - and you - can be sure that they were produced with respect for people, the environment and animals.
Which certificate do we choose?
For some ingredients and raw materials, like coffee beans for example, there are different certification organisations. Depending on the issues, the product category and the variety of products we wish to offer to our customers, we then look at the added value provided by the various certificates. After all, each organisation has its own criteria and sometimes different points of emphasis, ranging from ecological cultivation to fair working conditions. We compare exactly what each organisation offers. And we test this against our own four sustainability principles: health, society, animal welfare and the environment.
Consultation with suppliers
As soon as we have chosen a standard or certification method, we consult with suppliers. Can our current supplier supply the raw material with a certificate? Or does the supplier want to adapt its production method and installations to comply with a certified system, with or without our help? If that is the case, we are of course happy to continue working with that supplier. Sometimes we have to look for a new supplier who can and/or wants to provide us with the necessary certificates.
We can obtain ingredients and raw materials with worldwide recognised certificates, such as UTZ, FSC or MSC, relatively easily from large suppliers, often at an additional cost. Small suppliers do not always have the means to quickly switch their business over to certified production. That's why we sometimes give them more time to switch over and offer our support during the process. This allows them to adjust their production step by step.
We consciously opt for sustainable long-term relationships with our suppliers. Helping our suppliers switch over to more sustainable alternatives is part of our commitment to ensuring that more sustainable chains have more market share.Read more
If a product has been made using certified raw materials, you can often see it straight away on the packaging, which often shows the logo associated with the certificate.
But the story doesn’t end there. The certification organisations carry out regular audits at the factories and on the plantations, which we pay for. In addition, our buyers also visit suppliers. They check whether or not the sustainability criteria are being met on-site.
Alternatives to certification
Sometimes there is no recognised certificate for a specific ingredient or raw material. In that case, we look for alternatives to make that ingredient or raw material more sustainable. We do so through a number of steps:
- Look for a partner with appropriate knowledge who can help us, such as an NGO or university.
- Identify the pain points together: what exactly is needed to source the raw material sustainably anyway?
- Draw up criteria together: which criteria should the raw material meet before we can process it into our products or put it on our shelves?
- Organise audits where possible: are the criteria respected by the producers?
- Deepen relationships with growers and suppliers: can we make the product even more sustainable by working together?
An example: for fish species which are not yet covered by an MSC label, we arrange for an evaluation by ILVO, the Institute for Agricultural, Fisheries and Food Research. The ILVO assesses the aspects of fish stock, ecological impact, fisheries management and animal welfare and awards a sustainability score. If the score awarded is low, we look for an alternative or remove the product from our range.
Naturally, we continue to keep an eye on the certification organisations and enter into dialogue with them. When they certify new raw materials and make them available, we (usually) switch to this certification.
With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.