Raw materials with a sustainability certificate

FSC for wood, RSPO for palm oil, UTZ for cocoa, GOTS for cotton, RTRS for soy, etc., 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, the producer has to fulfil a number of criteria, such as ecology, animal welfare, fair pay, etc. If our buyers buy certified raw materials, they can be sure that they have been produced with a minimum of respect for people, the environment and animals.

How do you choose a certificate?

For some raw materials, like coffee beans for example, there are different certification organisations. Depending on the local situation and the product category, we consider the added value of the various certificates. Each system follows its own criteria en has a different emphasis. For example, the organisations focus more or less on ecological cultivation, fair working conditions, animal welfare, etc. That’s why we compare exactly what each organisation offers. And we test this against our four sustainability principles: health, society, animal welfare and the environment.

Graindor coffee with a UTZ certificate
There are different certificates for coffee beans such as UTZ, Rainforest Alliance, Bio and Fairtrade.

We can obtain raw materials with worldwide recognised certificates, such as UTZ, FSC or MSC, relatively easily from large suppliers. With small suppliers, it’s quite different. They often don’t have the resources to switch their company over swiftly to certified production. That’s why we sometimes give them more time to switch. So they can adapt their production gradually.

Why? We consciously opt for long-term sustainable relationships. This is how we helped De Lochting organic farm to switch to organic cultivation.

Read more

See, certified!

If a product has been made using certified raw materials, you can often see it straight away on the packaging. If relevant, the certificate’s logo will be printed on it. 

But the story doesn’t end there. The certification organisations carry out regular audits at the factories and on the plantations. We pay for this (like other retailers). In addition, our buyers also visit suppliers. They check whether or not the sustainability criteria are being met on-site.

Buyer visiting a fish company
Our buyer (centre) checking the quality of fish during a factory visit in Asia. During his inspection, he paid a lot of attention to the sustainability criteria.

What if a certificate is not (yet) available?

Sometimes, for a particular raw material, a certificate isn't available yet. In that case, we also want to make that raw material more sustainable. We do so through a number of steps:

  1. Look for a partner with appropriate knowledge who can help us, such as an NGO or university.
  2. Determine the sticking points together: what exactly is needed to source the raw material sustainably anyway?
  3. 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?
  4. Carry out inspections regularly: are the criteria being met?
  5. Deepen relationships with growers and suppliers: can we make the product even more sustainable by working together? 

Of course, we also keep an eye on the certification organisations. If, after some time, they set the same sustainability criteria as us, we (usually) switch over to their certification.

With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

Decent work & economic growth Sustainable cities and communities Responsible consumption & production Climate action