Dispatches from the ISEAL Alliance 2012 Conference

Almost 200 members and supporters of the ISEAL Alliance came together at a conference in Bonn, Germany last week.  Founded in 2002, ISEAL has provided 10 years of leadership in standards and certification.

Representing Mars Chocolate, I sat on a great Impact data panel with representatives from international supermarket retailer Ahold, UTZ Certified, and Marine Stewardship Council.  We discussed that despite the challenges on good quality impact data, for certification to be successful, we must demonstrate its positive impact on critical indicators like productivity, quality, income, and labor conditions. The panel was titled Growing Demand for Impact Data, but I suggested that Impact Data was needed to lead to Growing Demand for certified cocoa.

Additionally, I participated in a panel on Building Supply, where I shared insights on a pre-competitive project of which we’re a part, Certification Capacity Enhancement (CCE).  Despite the challenges, we concluded that there is a need to continue to find ways to work with multiple stakeholders in a pre-competitive manner.  Additionally, we discussed the need to drive up the return for farmers (productivity) and reduce the cost of getting certified (to farmers AND to industry) in order to make a more attractive return on investment to ensure that sustainability becomes the norm in the sector.

An interesting keynote speech was offered by Roland Weening, Vice President Marketing, Innovation & Sustainability Coffee at Kraft Foods.  Weening was the 2nd keynote speech at the event and he said that Kraft is committed to 100% certified coffee for the European Union by 2015, with a target of purchasing 35% of their coffee supply from sustainable sources by end 2012.  The company’s commodity priorities are to secure supply, reduce impact on the environment, support farming communities, and generate growth and consumer preference for Kraft brands.  Saying “there is no pleasure in consuming if there is no pleasure in growing,” Weening also announced that Kraft wants to collaborate with other companies in a pre-competitive manner.

Congratulations to the folks at ISEAL Alliance for their ten years of leadership in standards and certification.

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