The Sustainability Initiative Fruit and Vegetables (SIFAV) has achieved an important milestone on its sustainability journey: the sustainable volume of fresh fruit and vegetables sourced by the SIFAV-partners reached 85%, marking a strong increase since the start of reporting in 2015. The findings of the final progress report for the SIFAV 2020 program were presented during a live event in Rotterdam. The SIFAV 2020 Final Assembly also highlighted project results as well as the new collaborative sustainability strategy for 2025.
Since its foundation under the umbrella of IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative, SIFAV, has grown substantially, both in terms of partners and with regards to sustainably sourced volumes. At the closure of the 2020 program, SIFAV counted over 40 partners (up from 29 in 2015, the start of reporting) – among them retailers, brands, traders, civil society organizations and other supporting parties – that have committed to 100% sustainable sourcing of fresh fruit and vegetables. Their joint efforts across global fruit and vegetable supply chains have led to a significant increase in percentage sustainably sourced produce for the European market – from 50% in 2015 to 85% in 2020.
Strong performance: sustainable volumes increased steadily
The SIFAV-partners have achieved a continuously positive result during their 8-year program, with sustainable volumes increasing steadily every year and the final result showing only a 15% difference compared to the initial ambitious aspiration of reaching 100% sustainable volumes by 2020. The evolution of the absolute numbers of sustainable volumes highlights the strong performance even more visibly, showing a total increase of 163%, from 1 234 326 tonnes in 2015 to 3 240 842 tonnes in 2020. Under SIFAV, procurement is defined as sustainable when suppliers meet the requirements of one (benchmarked) social and one environmental compliance standard.
“More than the overarching goal of achieving 100% sustainable produce, it was the sector wide vision and harmonized approach on sustainability which we see as the greatest success of SIFAV 2020.”, says Maria Oliveira, Manager Sustainability Van Oers United. “It allowed for raising awareness along the chain, from producers to customers, it opened relevant discussions and framed the urgency to work jointly on improving working conditions worldwide. In the past 8 years of SIFAV 2020, Van Oers United has gained new insights into our supply chains, and developed tools and mechanisms for risk management, monitoring and capacity building. We are proud of having been part of SIFAV 2020 and we look forward for an equally successful SIFAV 2025!”
Focus on developing countries
The majority of initiatives and projects under SIFAV 2020 were aimed at promoting sustainability in developing countries in Africa, Asia and South America. On average, the companies in the SIFAV 2020 program have had a joint market share of 20-25% in imports from these countries to Europe. Leading in terms of adoption rate is Costa Rica, with a share of 98,6% sustainably sourced by SIFAV-partners (up from 61,1% in 2015). In terms of growth, the biggest improvements have been realized in Colombia, where the sustainably sourced volumes for the SIFAV-partners have grown with 504% since 2015.
By now, the combined efforts under the umbrella of SIFAV are visibly bearing fruit: In many countries – and particularly in the key sourcing countries – there has been a large increase in the adoption of social and environmental standards by producers supplying the SIFAV-partners.
More than 40 projects driving supply chain sustainability on the ground
An important part of the program’s strong performance is the impact of more than 40 different international projects that have been implemented by the SIFAV-partners. In total more than 17 million euro was invested in these projects, including co-funding by IDH. Each of the projects was aimed at making the fruit and vegetable supply chain more sustainable. The activities cover a broad variety of countries, topics and products – ranging from occupational health and safety in the banana sector in Ecuador, a block farm model for mango and pineapple in Ghana to good environmental practices for beans and peas in Kenya and gender equality for melon in Honduras.
“Together with SIFAV, IDH, the Rainforest Alliance and other partners, we participated in the calculation of living wages for the banana sector in Costa Rica and Belize. The project led to the development of living wage benchmarks as well as the Salary Matrix – a tool that improves transparency in supply chains regarding wages. The Salary Matrix is now the recognized tool to measure the living wage gap and the foundation for discussions amongst partners on how to close that gap”, says Julie Cournoyer, Global Director of Sustainability at Fyffes. “This is a great achievement that would not have been possible without the collaboration efforts from all actors involved in this project.”
Further scaling up sustainable impact under SIFAV 2025
The evolution of the sustainable volumes and the positive developments in sustainability verification also further strengthen the foundation for the new SIFAV 2025 program. The ambitions for the future cover a lot of different supply chain aspects, ranging from the environmental footprint to wages and working conditions as well as to reporting and transparency.
“With SIFAV, our particular focus for fresh fruit and vegetables supply chains is on improving working conditions, beyond high-risk regions, and reducing our environmental footprint, in particular with regards to carbon emissions.”, explains Inge De Paepe, Sustainable Product Manager at Delhaize. “SIFAV facilitates research on the ground and provides expertise input that allow us to finetune the risk assessment of our supply chains and implementation of action plans. We strongly believe that we can significantly scale up our impact by joining forces with likeminded players in the sector.”
Within the SIFAV 2020 program, in total more than 40 different international projects have been implemented by the SIFAV-partners, covering a broad variety of topics with regards to sustainability – including for example health and safety, block farming, good environmental agricultural practices and gender equality, just to mention a few.
For more information on a selection of SIFAV-projects around the globe, check out the project world map on our website