Transparency

From the field to the POS: For us and for our customers it is very important to know where raw materials come from and how they have been processed. We are working to maximize the traceability of our raw materials, to simplify our value chains and to optimize them in ecological and social terms.

Transparency in the value chain

Today more than ever, consumers want to know where products come from and how, by whom and under what conditions they were produced. The requirements of the Swiss act on declaration of origin, traceability and up-to-date information in online trading are also regularly tightened up. With detailed knowledge of the individual steps in the value chain, we are better able to identify and effectively tackle risks.

Transparent value chains that take into account people, animals and the environment feature prominently as one of eight main projects involved in our multi-year sustainability targets.

For us, this specifically means:

  • Traceability and transparency for all own-label brands, to at least the final value-adding processing level.
  • All critical raw materials that we use, such as soya and palm oil, satisfy exacting sustainability standards, and we know their origin.
  • Animal welfare standards are complied with across our entire meat, milk and egg range.

In 2013, we held our stakeholder forum on the subject of transparency in the value chain. During the forum, it became clear that our stakeholders feel that retail must take responsibility along the entire value chain, but that the specific expectations can vary greatly depending on the stakeholder group and product range involved. We are examining these expectations in great detail within a project group.

In pilot projects we have surveyed the entire value chains for the critical raw materials palm oil and cotton. The pilot projects were undertaken together with external IT providers. As a next step, we will be using the information to implement targeted improvement measures.

Traceable to field and barn

There is no simple, standard solution for product traceability. We are working to ensure traceability as far back as possible, depending on the range involved. Our entire range of fruit and vegetables comes from certified cultivation in accordance with SwissGAP or GLOBALG.A.P. Consequently, we are able to trace all these products directly to the producer.

Naturaplan products

We are able to guarantee full traceability for many of our organic Naturaplan products. For example the Naturaplan ID enables you to check which farm produced your organic fruit and your organic vegetables. Products sold loose bear a bud sticker with the Naturaplan ID code. On packaged fruit and packaged vegetables, the Naturaplan ID has been shown on the label since 2010.

Meat products

We give the farmer's name on the packaging of whole chickens and chicken breasts sold under our Naturafarm and Naturaplan own-label sustainability brands. In addition, the location of the production company is mentioned on Naturaplan organic fresh meat cuts, such as fillet and entrecôte steak.

Fairtrade products

The FLO-ID, as it is known, can be found on the packaging of bananas and various other items that bear the Fairtrade Max Havelaar label. To find out more about the producer and the product, enter the code on the Fairtrade Max Havelaar website.

Textiles

More and more items of clothing from our Naturaline own-label brand display a numerical code on their sewn-in label. On the bioRe website, you can trace in detail the route from the cultivation of the organic cotton, through various production stages, to the finished product.

Step by step towards sustainable value chains

The global and increasingly networked economy is making our value chains more diverse and more complex. We are working towards simplifying them and optimizing them with regard to ecological and social requirements.

The more complex the value chains, the harder it is to know them at every level and ensure compliance with sustainability standards. Thus we are seeking to build long-term supplier relationships. For fruit and vegetables these should, if possible, comprise just three levels.

For many years, we have been using a wide array of tools such as range screening, eco-audits and, in particular, insights gained from dialogue with the scientific community and many different NGOs to identify effective approaches to achieving sustainable value chains. As these analyses are very time-consuming we are focusing on our own-label sustainability brands as well as key product groups. These are the areas in which we can achieve the greatest impact.

Clear guidelines for our buyers

We draw on these analyses to produce basic statements and instructions, covering cultivation, processing, transport and packaging. They form the basis for our guidelines for buyers, thus ensuring that our range satisfies ecological and social criteria. The declaration and the reduction in air freight, for instance, can be traced back to eco-audits carried out by the Federal Institute of Technology ETH on our behalf.

Comprehensive risk management

We continuously assess our range to identify any ecological or social risks. We have also been monitoring potential risks in our production areas for several years now and we follow global social debate and political initiatives with regard to sustainability. This ensures we are up to date on key issues and can react quickly if necessary.

Accordingly, our comprehensive three-part risk management process is an important part of our approach to sustainability.

1. Risk screening

We continuously check the ecological and social impact of our products in order to swiftly identify and minimize potential risks. We periodically carry out range screening to identify new issues at an early stage and introduce measures. This screening process has already led to us developing a water standard to ensure sustainable production of fruit and vegetables in countries with water scarcity issues.

2. Risk monitoring

For us it is crucial to be able to buy and offer to our customers high-quality raw materials in the medium and long term as well as the present. In order to systematically evaluate the risks in value chains, we conduct risk monitoring using the acclaimed Maplecroft analysis tool. For each country this monitoring process identifies the greatest risks in terms of the environment and social and political security. Specifically it focuses on risks such as water stress, soil degradation, deforestation, biodiversity, climate change and food security.

3. Issue monitoring

Our issue monitoring process documents and evaluates social debate and political initiatives that may be significant to us in the coming months. We use it to compile a catalogue of risk products and risk issues and then develop measures to address these. In this way we not only reduce risks but also identify the most effective approaches to optimizing our value chain.