Raw materials

Interview with Emmanuelle Beset, Head of Procurement

“It is important to monitor market movements in order to enable corporate responsibility in procurement. CSR is dynamic, continually requiring adjusting insights, points of view and decisions. Whereas we mainly were guided by our environment in the past, in the past two years we developed our own approach, inspired by the origin of our company: producing the best snacks in a smart way. In this respect, we apply an optimal balance between quality, food safety, animal well-being, good working conditions and human rights throughout the chain, environmental tax and affordability”. That is how Emmanuelle Beset, Head of Procurement, outlines Van Geloven’s procurement policy relating to ingredients and packaging.

Chain partnership
Emmanuelle indicates that Procurement is committed to preventing waste. That is why they continually check how to extract maximum value from the ingredients and raw materials. “We do this within our own production process and we also review it within the chain.For example, together with our vegetables supplier, we charted the flows that we do not have an optimal purpose for. Based on this review, we sit down with Product development to check which of these specifications could be used in our products. For instance, together with our onion supplier we looked at the onion residue that is left over when the onions are chopped for our skewers to see if it can be used in another product. This has been successfully tested and we are now deploying this flow. This means that we can use as much as 2 tons of onion residue elsewhere in the company. This is a fine example of how we are trying to prevent waste. Of course, it is interesting for all those involved”, says Emmanuelle. Relating to meat, Van Geloven continuously works with its suppliers to examine the options of maximising carcass utilisation. For example, in our snacks, we use so-called ‘separator meat’. That is high-quality meat. ‘Separator’ refers to the method of extracting the meat. It is really a refined de-boning method. “We are examining the options of getting together with external parties for further sustainability of our use of raw materials and ingredients. For example, we investigated whether we could source the beef for our brand De Bourgondiër from the Netherlands and we have since started doing it on quite a large scale. Availability is an important topic, particularly with beef, but we are always looking for opportunities to source it locally”, Emmanuelle explains. 

Consideration of the importance of certification
When purchasing products, certificates are a point of attention to both customers and possible other stakeholders. Emmanuelle says: “In consultation with our customers, we aim to critically review the quality labels, each time carefully considering whether or not the certificate truly adds value about improvement in animal welfare or the environment. When sourcing raw materials and ingredients, we monitor the quality curve, ensuring it is comparable to international standards. We often even go beyond that. Quality is the only way for us. This does not always need to be highlighted with a certificate, as you can read further down.”

Ingredients with and without a quality label
In practical terms, Van Geloven’s approach means that the company purchases some ingredients and materials based on quality labels, and buys others based on its own principles. For example, the company has been buying Green Palm Certificates since 2010 for the full palm oil volume. This means that by purchasing the certificates, the company supports sustainable production of palm oil, and Emmanuelle is clearly committed to this choice. “However, we don’t feel it is necessary for a certifying body to come here and check if it is really true. It all costs extra money. If customers want the extra inspection, they can check if we truly buy the certificates for our full volume. We can demonstrate this based on invoices”, says Emmanuelle. From the end of 2014, Van Geloven switched to segregated palm oil for 100% of its palm oil requirement. This means that this palm oil from sustainable production was kept separate from regular palm oil throughout the chain, up to delivery to the production sites. Proof based on invoices applies to this system too.

Cardboard sustainability
Relating to packaging, we use ‘virgin’ cardboard. Rather than recycled, it is based on new fibres. Where possible, we use recycled corrugated cardboard. We use FSC certified cardboard for our full requirement of corrugated cardboard. Our supplier embedded this certification in its CSR policy. Folding cardboard is sourced in accordance with the PEFC principles or FSC quality label, and is a good example of a so-called ‘chain of custody’.  We can safely rely on this assurance that in the production of our folding cardboard requirement only certified fibres were used and no ancient forest has been chopped down. Each link in the delivery chain has the COC certificate. If we should also attain the FSC certificate for the folding cardboard, it would be a purely administrative action that involves unnecessary extra cost without adding any extra value or benefiting the environment. In consultation with our customer, we decided not to rig up for that project. Obviously, we always try to reduce packaging waste. For instance, all the foldable cartons which are supplied in Tilburg no longer come packed in outer boxes. This avoids the use of no less than 10,192 kg of cardboard on an annual basis”, Emmanuelle recounts. In addition, the foldable cartons in Tilburg no longer have a 20 g PE coating, but instead they have a 15 g coating. This avoids the use of 5,262 kg of PE on an annual basis. And the in-store trays for Mora satay have changed from white/white to white/brown. This means that the company uses 100% recycled cardboard instead of 63% as used to be the case for this popular snack.

Subsequent link in the chain
Relating to pork meat, Van Geloven collaborates with suppliers that are working on forming their own policy. This is not limited to animal well-being. They also define a vision on the environment, for example by observing the Global GAP standards. These are guidelines recognised and well-known throughout the world. Emmanuelle says: “We support this whole-heartedly because these standards go beyond animal well-being alone. Also, the supplier and we prevent having to comply with too many local restrictions. That would not be good for competition mechanisms. No one would benefit from that. Our snacks should remain accessible to everyone!” In practical terms, Van Geloven is now in the test phase for Better Life 1 star meat when it comes to pork. Given that the availability of this meat is limited in the specific quantities that the company needs, Van Geloven will switch to a pork with an animal welfare level at least comparable to the criteria for the 1 star Better Life that the Animal Protection Foundation sets. Relating to chicken, which is the biggest share in the total meat portfolio, Van Geloven’s policy is close partnerships with large slaughter houses. “As soon as retailers change over to chicken in accordance with the guidelines for Tomorrow’s Chicken and Better Life, this will increase access to ingredients and raw materials within the specification range of our company, allowing for gradual upscaling. As our specification range is complementary to retail, our role cannot be leading within the chain. We are dependent on the existing range to a high extent, which is minimal and therefore expensive at this moment. What we can influence is processing laying hens and plus flows (free-range etc.). Within our recipes, we check if we could process more laying hen meat. On one hand this is more sustainable as this is in fact a side-flow from the eggs industry, and on the other side, within laying hen meat a larger range of plus flow exists that we could also decide to source from. This would enable us to make a valuable contribution to using the maximum capacity of plus flows within our scope of control. In 2013, we were able to process over 10% more volume in laying hen meat in our products compared with 2012. That is one reason why we processed more plus-flows last year”, says Emmanuelle.

Horsemeat from southern Europe



Relating to horsemeat, Van Geloven still fully supports processing horse meat, in spite of media attention for recurring well-being problems with horses. Horsemeat has a particular flavour that is a favourite in snacks. Van Geloven recently visited its horsemeat suppliers. None of the companies had any activities that could indicate animal abuse. In order to ensure that all suppliers comply with Van Geloven’s instructions, the idea is for SGS auditing to frequently perform a comprehensive audit for animal well-being among its meat suppliers. Van Geloven sees no reason to stop purchasing horsemeat from North and South America (Argentina and Uruguay) However, Mora retail products are meanwhile horsemeat free. This was mainly due to the recurring media attention relating to this topic, which caused Mora to be unjustly associated with poor conditions at other suppliers. Naturally, Van Geloven sincerely regrets such poor conditions; however, the company cannot take responsibility for meat they do not buy. For those products for which Van Geloven still uses horsemeat, the company is looking at the option of purchasing horse meat from a company in southern Europe from that has a good reputation in the field of animal welfare. The meat is admittedly quite a bit more expensive, but Van Geloven is trying to achieve a balanced budget based on a chain analysis. The first tests for this have been done and the results are promising.

Code of Conduct
In order to ensure suppliers match the choices that Van Geloven aims to make with its CSR policy, the company prepared a new Code of Conduct in mid-2014. It was distributed among both its employees and its relevant business relations. “This Code of Conduct sets out how to deal with people, animals and the environment. We prepared it based on recognised national and international guidelines. To us, this is a way to indicate our vision on Corporate Social Responsibility, and the principles we feel are important in this respect. And also to get the market moving and put CSR in the limelight. “Our management is responsible for the implementation and enforcement of this Code of Conduct within its scope of control. This is why we included it in our audit programme. This allows us to measure progress on an annual basis. Together with our suppliers, we aim for a sustainable partnership. We prefer to work with parties acting in the spirit of these rules. Meanwhile, we receive feedback from the market that an increasing number of food companies want to operate based on a Code of Conduct as we have implemented”, says the passionate expert.