Blog
01-11-2019

Sustainable Raw Materials In Our Chain

The VanDrie Group produces calf feed, both muesli as calf milk. One important raw material for the calf milk is palm oil, which is primarily produced in countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Theo Koster is responsible for purchasing raw materials at Van Drie Ingredients. Daphne Hameeteman is Sustainability Manager at palm oil supplier Olenex, a joint venture of global market leader Wilmar. She is in close contact with her customers in Europe, including the VanDrie Group. Both of them support more sustainable food production within their own field.

Hameetman:
“As raw material suppliers we face the same challenges. “Deforestation is a big problem in Asia because it threatens the natural habitat of animals like the orangutan. Violation of human rights is a bigger issue in Latin America, such as land expropriation and dangerous working conditions. I am responsible for ensuring that our suppliers comply with our sustainability criteria.”

Which sustainability criteria do you apply? 

Hameeteman: “Just as with coffee and cacao, there is a certification body for palm oil – the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). This is a multi-stakeholder organisation with approximately 1,500 members, including banks, NGOs, oil palm farmers, retailers and product manufacturers. Wilmar and Olenex are also members of this organisation. Together, they determine the standard for sustainable palm oil, which is laid down in criteria which farmers must meet. These include not cutting down any areas of rainforest and complying with human rights. What is often forgotten, however, is that sustainability comes at a price. We demand that farmers invest heavily in, for example, protective clothing for all their employees, the separate storage of pesticides and the sustainable disposal of waste water. Not all farmers are able to become RSPO certified because not everyone can pay for this. At this moment, approximately 18% of all palm oil that is produced worldwide is RSPO certified.”

Koster: “Fortunately, farmers are increasingly realising that those investments yield returns, due to positive feedback from not only their customers but also the communities in the vicinity of the palm plantations. I asked the owner of a plantation in Malaysia whether he would continue to produce sustainably if customers no longer asked for it. He replied that he couldn’t do otherwise because it had become part of his management policy.”

Hameeteman: “Because of this, the conversations I have with farmers are a lot easier than five years ago. In order to ensure that farmers who are not yet able to make the investment still comply with certain basic sustainability principles, Wilmar implemented its own sustainability policy in 2013, which all suppliers worldwide have to comply with. This policy includes no deforestation, no cultivation on peatlands and no violation of human rights.”

The VanDrie Group buys palm oil from Olenex. Where does this palm oil come from?

Hameeteman: “Primarily from Asia; 40% comes from Malaysia and Indonesia. Another 40% comes from Latin America, mainly from Honduras, Guatemala and Colombia. The remaining 20% comes from Papua New Guinea and Africa.”

And which sustainability criteria does this palm oil meet?

Koster: “Four of our five production locations for calf feed are located in the Netherlands. The Dutch animal feed industry organisation (Nevedi) is the only such organisation in Europe to have agreed in a covenant that all palm oil and palm-oil-related products that are purchased by its members and are intended for consumption in the Netherlands are RSPO certified. The companies pay a certain premium for that. The same has also been agreed for soy. As a result, we can guarantee sustainability as a sector.”

Hameeteman: “I think this is a fantastic step by Nevedi. In addition to the fact that the companies don’t have to sort it out themselves, they also add value by paying that premium. That money goes straight to the oil palm farmers.”

The VanDrie Group buys palm oil from Olenex. Where does this palm oil come from?

Hameeteman: “Primarily from Asia; 40% comes from Malaysia and Indonesia. Another 40% comes from Latin America, mainly from Honduras, Guatemala and Colombia. The remaining 20% comes from Papua New Guinea and Africa.” 

And which sustainability criteria does this palm oil meet?

Koster: “Four of our five production locations for calf feed are located in the Netherlands. The Dutch animal feed industry organisation (Nevedi) is the only such organisation in Europe to have agreed in a covenant that all palm oil and palm-oil-related products that are purchased by its members and are intended for consumption in the Netherlands are RSPO certified. The companies pay a certain premium for that. The same has also been agreed for soy. As a result, we can guarantee sustainability as a sector.”

Hameeteman: “I think this is a fantastic step by Nevedi. In addition to the fact that the companies don’t have to sort it out themselves, they also add value by paying that premium. That money goes straight to the oil palm farmers.”

What does that collaboration involve?

Hameeteman: “Mariposa is a fund where companies donate money on the basis of the palm oil volumes that they buy. The Wilmar sustainability team, on behalf of Olenex, is going to set up projects in Latin America with that fund, aimed at helping oil palm farmers to become more sustainable, since a large proportion of our supply comes from that region. We see that the risk of deforestation and violation of human rights is increasing in those countries due to the growing global demand for palm oil. Olenex started the initiative this year because customers have indicated that they want to do more to support the oil palm farmers, in addition to purchasing RSPO-certified palm oil.”

Koster: “The goal of Mariposa appeals to us greatly and we also consider it our duty to help the farmers move towards RSPO certification. The money goes directly towards educating small farmers in the field of sustainable palm oil production. It also funds the training of specific employees from the palm oil factories, so they can subsequently pass on the knowledge to the farmers who supply them.”

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