Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber

You are using software which is blocking our advertisements (adblocker).

As we provide the news for free, we are relying on revenues from our banners. So please disable your adblocker and reload the page to continue using this site.

Click here for a guide on disabling your adblocker.

Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber
Why 50% sustainability isn’t enough

Fruit & Vegetables industry invests in 100% sustainability

The Sustainability Fruits and Vegetables Initiative (SIFAV), believes that when it comes to preserving farmers’ ability to produce healthy vegetables in the long run, nothing short of 100 percent sustainability will do.

Jumbo, C1000, Ahold, ICA, Coop and Lidl are just a few big names that signed up to the SIFAV initiative, committing to source 100 percent sustainably by 2020. Last summer, the group announced to be on track with its goal of 30 percent sustainability in 2014. Next year’s goal is 50 percent sustainability.

“Sustainability is important, so that we can keep producing in the long term. This means the inclusion of smallholder farmers into the supply chain.” These were the words of Tony Bruggink, Program Director of the IDH Fruits & vegetables program, standing in a room filled with retail giants and other companies in the fruits and vegetable sector in Europe on November 12th. The companies had gathered for a morning of discussions around smallholder inclusion, as a side event to the International Supply Management Congress held last week.

The companies clearly invest time and capital in reaching the SIFAV commitments. Mr. Bruggink points out that they seem to recognize that they can and should play an important role in increasing sustainability in the supply chain, both by scaling up existing initiatives aimed at increasing sustainability and by developing new producer support projects. Bruggink: “Their commitment shows the importance of mainstreaming sustainability in the sector”.

The bananas, pineapples and other healthy produce that the retailers sell are sourced mainly in Africa and Latin America, to be sold throughout Europe. Why do so many large companies dealing in fruits and vegetables suddenly find sustainability important? According to Michiel van Zanten, Sourcing Director at Ahold, customers increasingly demand sustainability, as more and more people are aware of sustainability. “Many non-profit organizations are challenging us: so it has become part of our core business. It is balancing act to be innovative, have best quality and affordable prices. Sustainability is part of that package, and before we joined SIFAV we recognized this,” says Van Zanten.

So far in 2014, nine additional companies have joined, resulting in an increased number of participants in the covenant. Dutch traders and retailers in Europe annually import approximately 13.4 million tons of fruits and vegetables from Central and South America, Africa and Asia, with a total value exceeding €10 billion. The covenant parties would like to make a positive contribution towards increasing the sustainability of their sourcing of fresh fruits and vegetables, in relation to social-economic improvement and environmental aspects.

So why is this year’s goal of the covenant, 30 percent, not enough? Van Zanten: “As a market leader, we need to set ourselves high goals. 30 percent is not enough, as we believe that sustainability is a ladder. You take it step by step, and it has many challenges that keep moving, so we need to keep fine-tuning our ambitions. : “We would like to strive for 100% sustainability; it is in our DNA.”

For more information:
Iris Tzur
Tel: +31 (0)6-21147951
Email: [email protected]
Publication date: