Chain projects in the South lead to more sustainable own brand products
Rice from India, coffee from the DR Congo, quinoa from Peru… Have you ever thought about how far these delicacies have travelled before they reaching your cupboard? And export involves more than just production. A good product must also be packed efficiently, transported properly, marketed intelligently and traded honestly. By setting up chain projects in the countries of origin, we give smaller farmers with limited resources and access to knowledge, acces to a fixed market, at fair and transparent conditions. We do this together with various partners, each with their own specific expertise. And in exchange, we get sustainable quality products, which you can buy from our shops with an easy mind.
More sustainable in every link
Many small family companies of farmers in the South have the potential to produce sustainable high quality goods. But due to a lack of money, knowledge or certification, they find it difficult to access export markets with better conditions by themselves. In these cases, we check whether a chain project is a solution. With these, together with the farmers and other partners, we build an efficient and sustainable production chain, from their fields to the shop, where every link in the chain wins.
As Colruyt Group, we promise to buy a fixed and significant volume from the farmers’ organisations at a fair price and to offer it for sale in our Belgian shops. As a result, their income increases and they’re able to invest more. For our part, we expect them to deliver high quality, to produce sustainably with respect for people and the environment, and to become competent in areas such as logistics, processing and sales. They get time and training to adapt to these higher requirements and we help them, for example in obtaining the necessary certificates.
Participation in existing and new chains
Before we start a chain project, we carry out extensive preliminary studies and see to what extent the farmers’ cooperatives are already organised. Depending on the situation, we either strengthen existing chains or build new chains. In addition, we take a number of criteria into account:
- We always choose products from developing countries or regions.
- We support small family producers/farmers who are organised into cooperatives or through a sustainable partner.
- We always work with independent partners such as NGOs, experts, universities or non-profit organisations.
- Projects must be feasible within a maximum of 5 years and after that, the cooperatives must be able to take over the chain themselves. We integrate sustainability mechanisms from the start.
- Exporting is one thing, but the chain must also give the farmers leverage to gain a stronger position in the local market.
Sharing our networks and knowledge
If a project appears to be economically feasible for all partners over the long term then, as a retailer, we can invest in the chain in different ways:
- We guarantee sales markets and volumes.
- We provide (technical) knowledge and material in areas such as quality, packaging, marketing and establishing working methods.
- Via our Belgian network, we ask universities, colleges and NGOs to help us support the project. For example, by drawing up business and investment plans, developing a tangible roadmap or formulating realistic aims.
- We look for partners who want to invest in the project or provide loans.
- We finance the farmers’ training to obtain sustainability certificates and to satisfy audits.
- We temporarily pay in advance for goods that the farmers purchase.
To develop international supply chains, we have been working with several partners such as Rikolto, Efico and Enabel for 15 years now. Pioneer work that is paying off! In a fascinating publication, we compile our practical insights and look ahead confidently.Everything about our chain projects
A chain project: sustainability made concrete
And what is the result of our chain projects for you, as a responsible consumer? You should take a good look if you’re in one of our Colruyt, Spar, OKay or Bio-Planet supermarkets. You’ll find more and more of our own brand products which are better for the planet and for the people who produce them. And that’s thanks to years of joint effort within a sustainable chain.
Today you can find the coffee, cocoa, cashew and quinoa from our chain projects in about 40 products. This year, new chain projects in fish and cocoa will be launched. And our ambition is great: the number of chain projects will grow and the chain projects will continue to inspire us to make our purchasing policy more sustainable!
With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.