Excellent food starts with excellent ingredients. At Vandemoortele, we set high quality standards for our suppliers. However, taste and quality go hand in hand with sustainability. We feel responsible for what happens in our whole supply chain. Our overarching aim is to deliver tasty food that is good for our consumers and for the planet, that respects the local farmers and does not put animal welfare at risk.
Promoting ethical behaviour is not a superficial promise, but a genuine commitment. We ask all our direct suppliers to sign our Supplier Code of Conduct. Every year, we examine our supply chain to ensure responsible sourcing. Growing some of our core ingredients, like palm oil, soy, wheat and eggs, may raise issues of environmental protection, human and animal rights, and health and safety. We take steps to enhance the sustainability of these goods from farmer to consumer. As for our packaging materials, we aim to use only 100% reusable, recyclable and compostable packages.
SUSTAINABLE PALM OIL: “WELL ON THE PATH”
Palm oil plays a significant role in the taste and structure of our food products. Moreover, it has a high yield per hectare compared to other vegetable oils. That’s why we use palm oil in many of our products, from bread and croissants to margarines and culinary oils.
In recent years, the palm oil industry has been subject to significant criticism. The sourcing of palm regularly leads to deforestation, decline of biodiversity and exploitation of local farmers. The supply chain is also very complex, making it less transparent for buyers. At Vandemoortele, we take steps to reduce these negative impacts. We contribute to a more sustainable palm oil industry and strive to reduce the ecological and social risks linked to palm oil sourcing.
One of our most import targets is sourcing only certified sustainable palm oil for our consumer and professional branded products. To this purpose, we have joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). We also require all our key palm oil suppliers to have a NDPE policy (No Deforestation, Peat or Exploitation). A third important aim is traceability: by 2025, we want to be able to trace all our palm oil to the mill that delivered it, and 75% to the exact plantation.
SOY WITH GOOD ROOTS
Animal-based products like milk and eggs often come from animals fed with soy. But the growing soy production, especially in South America, has several negative consequences. Forests disappear at an alarming rate and small farmers and indigenous people are being displaced.
Since Vandemoortele does not process soy directly, it took us a while to become aware of soy-related challenges. We are now fully committed to tackle them. That is why the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) is such a welcome initiative and why, since May 2011, Vandemoortele has a seat at this table. The RTRS ensures that soy, either as a raw material or as a by-product, originates from a process that is environmentally correct, socially adequate and economically viable. Together with our RTRS partners, we are taking action to protect forests, promote the use of low-impact herbicides and safeguard quality of life for growers and workers alike.
For our consumer and professional branded products we use 100% RTRS-certified, sustainable soy. This applies both to the soy ingredients we use ourselves and the soy that ends up in our products indirectly via animal feed. We are now expanding this ambition to our full portfolio.
WHEAT FROM A FLOURISHING COUNTRYSIDE
Flour is an important ingredient in our business: we use it in almost all of our bakery products. Quality has always been our primary concern, but we are now also developing a Sourcing Charter for Wheat and Flour, to achieve responsible sourcing. The project team that develops the charter can draw inspiration from our business unit in France. Our French associates collaborate with the Filière CRC® (Culture Raisonnée Contrôlée®), an organisation that provides certificates to ensure the traceability and sustainability of wheat.
French farmers, millers and others who work with Filière CRC® have united under the name Le blé de nos campagnes® or ‘Wheat from our countryside’. The organisation’s members maintain biodiversity in their fields by planting or protecting hedgerows, wildflower meadows and endangered species. Pollution of water streams is avoided by not cultivating on river banks. CRC-certified wheat should be grown at least 250 metres from a motorway, airport, factory or other source of air pollution. The use of herbicides is forbidden, the wheat is stored with natural air ventilation and it is rigorously traceable. Most of the brand products we produce in France are already CRC-certified.
COCOA WITH RESPECT FOR FARMERS
Almost everyone loves chocolate! And Vandemoortele loves to satisfy that desire – but not at the expense of the environment or the wellbeing of workers. For that reason, we joined UTZ back in 2013. UTZ is an international certification programme and label for coffee and cocoa. In 2018, it merged with the Rainforest Alliance. Together, they help farmers to improve their productivity, efficiency and quality without sacrificing the interests of local communities or the environment. They also provide Mass Balance Certificates for sustainably sourced cocoa.
By 2025, we want to use 100% UTZ/Rainforest Alliance cocoa with Mass Balance Certification in our consumer and professional branded products. We are also developing a Sourcing Charter on sustainable cocoa, in which we explain the social and environmental challenges we are trying to tackle. This will help us work towards a better future for our planet.
EGGS FROM WELL-TREATED HENS
At Vandemoortele, we care about animal welfare. We believe it is our responsibility to supply our customers with eggs from hens that live in optimal conditions. Since January 2020, we use 100% cage-free eggs, also known as barn eggs, in all our products. The hens are no longer locked in cages, but free to walk in their barn.
Barn egg production, while not perfect, eliminates the animal welfare disadvantages of cage egg production, such as high stress levels for the hens. A well-managed barn that provides protection and enrichment is a welfare-friendlier alternative for large-scale egg production. For eggs used in sauces like mayonnaise, we aim even higher: since 2016 we only use free-range eggs, which means the hens have free access to the outdoors.
Read more: Egg Sourcing Charter
CIRCULAR PACKAGING THAT REDUCES WASTE
Vandemoortele packages its products to keep them fresh and safe. At the same time, packaging is an important issue of societal concern. That is why we strive for an optimal balance between preservation and sustainable packaging. We advocate the circular economy, which keeps materials in the cycle for as long as possible.
Our packaging aims for 2025 include the use of 100% reusable, recyclable and compostable packages. To achieve this, we will increase the amount of recycled content in the PET materials we use. We are also shifting towards more mono-material packaging. Where paper and cardboard are concerned, we use 100% sustainable, recycled and recyclable products that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). Both these international organisations are committed to ensuring that our forests are managed responsibly by taking social, ecological and economic factors into account. To further reduce the volume of our packaging materials, we ban all unnecessary packaging and aim for the minimum pack weight possible.
Our suppliers are also required to comply with the strict European Parliament and Council Directive 94/62/EC of 20 December 1994 on the prevention of waste and the production, reuse, recycling and recuperation of packaging materials.