Now that sustainability has become a mainstream ambition in the corporate sector, the task is to ensure a sufficient supply of sustainably produced goods. Progress is no longer being constrained by the level of demand, but by the level of supply.
Improved producer programme
Access to sustainable production and the ability to source sustainable products has recently become a competitive value in the market, and the company that is the first to make its supply chain sustainable will have an advantage over its competitors. Companies are therefore interested in developing producer programmes; they share information about their procurement policies and are prepared to invest money and knowledge in producer development.
Developing joint producer programmes
Match funding, which brings together public and private funds for producer development, is becoming possible, and in recent years Solidaridad has entered into several contracts with companies on developing joint producer programmes with joint funding. This form of cooperation allows each party to benefit from the other's strenghts. The companies contribute their knowledge of production, the primary processing of products and the market. And they guarantee access to the market by agreeing to buy the sustainable product, often on better terms. Solidaridad offers a wealth of experience in assisting producer organizations and creating an enabling environment.
An interesting fact is that companies are not interested in the competition between the various standards for sustainable production. They want to obtain multiple certification for their products to maximize their ability to meet the demand for sustainable products. In turn, farmers want to maximize their access to these markets and are looking for systems that support multiple certification at the lowest possible costs.
These trends have prompted Solidaridad to develop its producer support programme more indepently, no long directly link to Fairtrade, as in th 1990s, or UTZ Certified, as in the last ten years. This 'mature' market for sustainable products requires a board strategy of mutual recognition, collaboration and system innovations to improve the effectiveness of all standards.
This is part two out of three blogs based on a publication by Nico Roozen, Solidaridad Network Executive Director, in our Annual Report 2010, but is still considered to be important for our work. Next week part three.
You can read part one here: Sustainability in a decisive phase (1): An integrated market approach