Dutch consumer organization acknowledges Sustainability Initiative of Fruits and Vegetables

The Dutch consumer organization, Consumentenbond, published its report today about the sustainability of fruit and vegetables in supermarkets in the Netherlands. According to the Consumentenbond, supermarkets are the most important link between producers and consumers, they can make the difference when it comes to making fruit and vegetables more sustainable. The report highlights two initiatives that are important and significantly influence the sustainability of the fruit and vegetable supply: On the way to PlanetProof and The Sustainability Initiative of Fruits and Vegetables (SIFAV).

Launched and developed by IDH, SIFAV is the only European-based organization that has been established with the purpose of convening sustainability agendas within global fruit and vegetable value chains. It has grown significantly from 13 Dutch partners at its inception in 2012 to a pan-European initiative representing over 40 partners. These include retailers, brands, traders and civil society organizations based in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. All partners have committed to the SIFAV goal of 100% sustainable procurement of fruit and vegetables from Africa, Asia and South America by 2020. Earlier this year, we reported that under SIFAV a milestone of 70% sustainably sourced produce was reached. This is what has emerged from the 2017 annual monitoring of The Initiative.

The Consumentenbond’s report applauds SIFAV’s Basket of Standards, and explained why for example GRASP is not in the Basket. The Basket is developed to mainstream and promote sustainable sourcing of fruit and vegetables in the areas of social and environmental practices. By adopting the Basket of Standards, SIFAV strives to avoid unnecessary duplication of audits and increased costs for farmers, as well as to support the alignment of existing approaches with international best practices.

The SIFAV platform also goes beyond monitoring the sourcing practices of its partners; it serves to facilitate the exchange of ideas and learnings among partners, and stimulates the implementation of pilot projects at farm level. These projects pioneer new and more sustainable practices, with the aim of improving working conditions (for example, striving towards the payment of living wages), enabling the inclusion of smallholder farmers in the global supply chain (improving their productivity and market access), and reducing the environmental impact of these value chains through better agrochemical, water and soil management.

The Consumentenbond researched the sustainability policies for fruit and vegetables from 6 Dutch supermarkets during the first half of 2018. Their report can be downloaded here or click here for the English version.