Givaudan encourages suppliers to share ethical data

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Raw materials Sustainability

Givaudan is working towards sourcing decisions based on qualitative, sustainability-related factors rather than just quantitative, economic factors, and is asking suppliers of 80 per cent of its raw materials to join SEDEX by 2015.

SEDEX – the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange – is an organisation that uses a web-based reporting system to promote ethics through the supply chain. Givaudan itself is a member – and is also a member of the UN Global Compact.

Joe Fabbri, global head of HR and chair of Givaudan’s sustainability board, said 200 suppliers represent 80 per cent of the company’s raw materials spend and 400 represent 90 per cent.

The 200 target is a step-wise approach, and he said it is not just a tick-box exercise: once suppliers have completed their forms, the company assesses them carefully, works with them on any improvements, and ultimately may take a decision about whether to continue working with them.

“We believe SEDEX does the right thing,”​ he said.

In the first part of FoodNavigator’s interview this week, Fabbri said he sees more customers of fragrance and flavour firms asking questions about sustainability. While the majority now ask about environmental targets, some are posing more probing questions.

Indeed, among food and consumer goods manufacturers there is a swell towards more sustainable sourcing. Unilever, for example, last year unveiled plans to source 100% of its agricultural raw materials sustainably over the next decade.

Synthetic vs agricultural raw materials

Givaudan acknowledges in its report that most synthetic raw materials have few commercially-viable, environmentally-sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based products.

“Therefore, our current priority remains to source from suppliers with sustainability programmes in place and who are working to reduce their social and environmental impacts.”

Nonetheless, it does have some initiatives in place for agricultural raw materials: it has established a community-based and farming project in vanilla-growing regions of Madagascar, and is now offering vanilla that is certified as fair trade by Eco-cert; in the Comoros Islands it is working to safeguard traditional production techniques for Ylang Ylang.

It plans to identify more sustainable sourcing initiatives. It is already partnering with the Natural Resource Stewardship Council which covers biodiversity, ethical trading, and business integrity through the supply chain.

And in 2011 the company is doing its homework on other potential partners.

“In this world of sustainability, everyone want to be a partner. You really have to do due diligence,”​ Fabbri said, adding that it is important to look behind the façade and ensure there is a fit between values.

“We’re not trying to set any land-speed record”.

Charitable giving

Fabbri also drew attention to the charitable work of Givaudan’s employees in the​two divisions and at the various sites around the world, where the focus is on supporting the local communities.

He said Givaudan is currently assessing charitable serving and giving at each of its legal entities, looking at what they are giving and why, and donations as a percentage of revenue, with the aim of introducing some consistency.

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