IDH sector initiatives adopt the Consumer Goods Forum’s SSCI

Promoting transparency among social standards and reducing audit duplication and unnecessary costs in the supply chain.

The Sustainable Juice Covenant (SJC) is IDH’s first initiative to adopt the Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative (SSCI) criteria as the benchmarking reference for social standards under the ‘Processing and Manufacturing’ scope. Once published, IDH’s Floriculture Sustainability initiative (FSI) and the Sustainability Initiative for Fruit and Vegetables (SIFAV) will adopt the SSCI ‘Primary Production’ scope as the social standards benchmarking reference for the FSI and SIFAV ‘Basket of Standards’.

The SSCI is an independent and credible mechanism for the benchmarking of third-party auditing and certification schemes, developed by the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF). Based on criteria developed by industry stakeholders, the SSCI sets the bar for what the industry expects from auditing schemes. SSCI currently performs benchmarking for schemes under its Manufacturing and Processing scope, with the Primary Production scope and the Seafood scope currently being developed by SSCI working groups.

The Sustainable Juice Covenant

Launched in 2017 by IDH, the SJC is a platform of sector leaders committed to the target of 100% sustainable sourcing by 2030. The SJC is open to players from across the supply chain and has a membership base of 17. These are some of the largest players in the global juice sector and the total volume traded under the SJC in 2018 was 4.7 million MT (single-strength juice equivalent).

Under the Sustainable Juice Covenant (SJC), sourcing is considered sustainable if farm-level production meets, or is equivalent to, bronze level under the Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA), developed by the SAI platform. At the processing level, the Juice Covenant has been working with the SA8000 and ETI/SMETA 4 pillar social standards. In May 2020, the SJC Steering Committee decided to adopt the SSCI as the reference for benchmarking social standards at the processing level.

By working with the SSCI, the Juice Covenant is taking an important step towards promoting transparency and comparability among and between social standards, allowing for the recognition of more social standards at processing under the Juice Covenant, and through this, reducing audit duplication and unnecessary costs along the supply chain.

Next steps under the Sustainable Juice Covenant

Following the decision under the Juice Covenant, the SJC will invite SEDEX (for the ETI/SMETA standard) and Social Accountability International (for the SA8000 standard) to initiate the SSCI benchmarking process. As this process will most likely take a few months, ETI/SMETA and SA8000 will be recognized as the accepted social standards under the Juice Covenant in the interim, until the benchmarking process is completed. If other social standards also pass through the SSCI benchmarking process and achieve SSCI recognition, these can then also be recognized under the Sustainable Juice Covenant at processing.

The Juice Covenant was established to support the transition to a more sustainable juice sector. By adopting SSCI as a benchmarking mechanism for social standards, we are ensuring the bar for social standards is high, while reducing the costs for players across the supply chain. As a member of the Juice Covenant, Riedel supports the decision taken by the Steering Committee, and looks forward to working with SSCI.

Piet Haasen, R&D Manager at Riedel, and member of the Juice Covenant steering committee

The Floriculture Sustainability Initiative

Supported by IDH, the Floriculture Sustainability Initiative (FSI) was launched in 2012 by a group of 25 floriculture sector leaders, FSI’s founding members. With now over 60 international companies and organizations that are part of the FSI group, FSI members share the goal of improving supply chain transparency and sustainability under the target of having 90% responsibly produced and traded flowers and plants by the end of 2020, and to the shared ambition of addressing sustainability issues through multi-stakeholder collaboration and market-driven approaches.

FSI has been using the Global Social Compliance Programme (GSCP), the predecessor to SSCI and developed by the Consumer Goods Forum’s (CGF), as a benchmarking reference for social standards, and has been involved on the consultation processes with SSCI and relevant standards for finalizing the SSCI criteria under the ‘Primary Production’ scope.

The Sustainability Initiative Fruit & Vegetables (SIFAV)

Launched in 2012 by a group of Dutch companies, SIFAV has become a European initiative with over 50 signatories, including retailers, brands, traders and civil society organizations that are based in seven European countries and represent approximately 25% of Fruit & Vegetable imports into Europe. The main objective of SIFAV is to build a broad sector commitment to transitioning to more sustainable sourcing. As with FSI, the adoption and implementation of the GSCP-benchmarked social Basket of Standards has been the key tool for achieving this goal from the start. Once published, SIFAV will adopt SSCI as a benchmarking reference for social standards under the ‘Primary Production’ scope for sourcing from ‘high-risk’ countries.

The SSCI Benchmarking Process

To achieve SSCI recognition, third-party audit and certification schemes need to undergo benchmarking according to the SSCI methodology. The process starts with an application to the SSCI and includes a self-assessment, a desktop review by an independent SSCI expert or ‘Benchmark Leader’ (BL), a company visit by the SSCI and the BL, coupled with a public consultation and a final industry validation (see figure below with steps). If all criteria are met, the scheme is recognized by the SSCI. Recognition is maintained via an annual monitoring of alignment process. The list of recognized schemes will be published on the SSCI website.

The SSCI benchmarking process is streamlined with the CGF Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) benchmarking methodology, to ensure a consistent approach to benchmarking across the CGF.