After ten years of the Sustainable Spices Initiative, 43 members not only celebrated their collaboration towards tackling the scale of environmental and social issues but also set the course for the next phase.
In October 2010, the 1st International Sustainable Spices conference at Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) in Amsterdam was co-hosted with IDH. Around 140 participants discussed sustainability in the spices sector for the very first time. This marked the formal launch of the Sustainable Spices Initiative (SSI) as platform, which started with nine founding company members: Verstegen, Unispices, Intertaste, Euroma, Unilever, Olam, BothENDS, Cordaid, and KIT.
Since then, the formal governance and mandate of SSI has been established, and the platform’s ambition is to take a leading role towards a sustainable spices, herbs and dehydrated vegetables sector. The purpose of SSI is to increase sustainable sourcing by +10% in 2021 and by 25% in 2025 for the most relevant spices, herbs and dehydrated vegetables. Early on, SSI decided not to create its own standard, but to engage with existing and recognized standards, starting with Rainforest Alliance to study the sustainability issues, and helped to fine tune the Rainforest Alliance standard.
SSI has developed the cornerstone of a sustainable model based on smallholders’ sourcing. SSI has also developed solid relationships with international (impact) stakeholders over the last 10 years. Cassia Co-op is happy to be part of the process.
Over the years, the scope and impact of SSI has broadened and the platform has striven to create impact at sourcing origins. This started with the development of pilot projects with private companies in Vietnam. These efforts ultimately drove to the creation of the Public Private Partnership Pepper Taskforce in Vietnam in 2014, chaired by SSI, and it was created as part of the Grow Asia program by the World Economic Forum.
In 2015, the SSI platform in India was created with the purpose of increasing sustainable sourcing by 25% in 2025 and it brought together 14 local and international companies to discuss sustainability in this national setting.
As Griffith Foods built our Sustainable Sourcing program for our raw materials, our involvement with the Sustainable Spice Initiative helped in several ways: SSI validated much of the thinking we had on the correct standards to use, it gave us a starting point on which category we would build our program from, and it provided legitimacy to in our program by reporting on our progress in the area of spices. I hope that SSI can continue and expand their influence and member base, increase the impact they are having in several key areas, and continue to identify new opportunities for collaboration with like-minded companies and organizations.
Throughout 2020, the SSI steering committee has been discussing a new strategy towards SSI which aims to create more impact through the collective work, whilst enhancing SSI’s leading role in transforming the spices, herbs and dehydrated vegetables sector into a more sustainable one. This strategy was presented during the SSI General Assembly in October 2020 and was well received by the members.
We as SSI members need to incorporate and work jointly with institutions, goverments and many more companies to make the world a much more sustainable place to live