Certification boost for ethical food makers

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Brazil Sustainability Soybean

New third-party verification that food has been produced
sustainably could help food markers tap the growing trend towards
ethical consumerism.

The ProTerra Certification Programme from Cert ID provides socially and environmentally responsible companies with the opportnity to obtain recognition of their practices, and be confident that the materials they purchase have not been produced in a manner that contributes to social and environemntal degradation.

The programme is also designed to help suppliers assure their buyers, and ultimately consumers, that their products have been produced sustainably.

Cert ID argues that such assurances are vital as consumers become more and more ethically aware. According to Pejling, the magazine of the Swedish Dairy Association, seventy per cent of Swedish consumers have a 'personal blacklist' of products and companies that do not meet their personal standards for social and environmental responsibility.

In addition, a survey by Market & Opinion Research International in the UK revealed that as many as one-fifth of the UK population boycott or select goods on social grounds. Similar statistics are found in many countries around the world.

"Our consumers have clear expectations that animal feed used in producing Coop products must be sustainably produced and not genetically modified,"​ said Brigit Hofer of Coop Switzerland.

"As a leading supplier of meat in Switzerland we take our responsibilities in this area very seriously. That is why we joined forces with the WWF to develop the Basel Criteria for Responsible Soy Production.

"We are happy to see that the ProTerra Certification Programme covers all of the requirements set down in the Basel Criteria and provides a systematic mechanism for verifying compliance."

ProTerra considers various dimensions of social and environmental responsibility, including compliance with environmental protection laws, management of agronomic factors, preservation and restoration of fragile features of the ecosystem and adherence to socially responsible practices.

The programme is the result of almost two years of intensive work and study within Cert ID and externally, in cooperation and consultation with industry and the public. In 2004, Coop Switzerland and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) requested a sister company of Cert ID, Genetic ID Europe, to undertake a study evaluating the feasibility of establishing objective criteria for assessing the sustainability and ethics of soy production in Brazil.

In preparing this feasibility study, Genetic ID (Europe) cooperated closely with Cert ID Brazil, whose years of experience in certifying the non-GMO status of Brazilian soy production systems gave access to all of the critical dimensions of information needed for the feasibility study.

The resulting study served as the systematic foundation of information that the WWF, Coop Switzerland, ProForest, and many other industry partners used to formulate the Basel Criteria for Responsible Soy Production.

"The process of creating the feasibility study opened our corporate eyes to the need for a sustainability and ethics certification program for the food and agricultural industries,"​ said Richard Werran, managing director of Cert ID Europe. "On that basis, Cert ID began the process of creating ProTerra.

"I think this programme meets a real need."

Cert ID has already been working with early adopters of the ProTerra Certification Programme, who will be quickly shipping ProTerra-certified soy beans, meal, protein, and lecithin into Europe.

In fact, it is anticipated that one of these pioneers, IMCOPA, one of the large Brazilian crushers, who import soy meal and lecithin into Europe, will ship their first panamax size vessel of ProTerra-certified soy meal from the Brazilian port of Paranagu within the week.

The soy sector will be the first where ProTerra will be implemented, but in short order, it will also be extended to other crops and other regions of the world, and applied to every phase of the food chain.

Founded in 1998, Cert ID is a leading certification body, specialising in certification of non-GMO commodities. These include large volumes of soy meal, lecithin, and other soy derivatives from Brazil.

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