The demand for certification comes up in almost every chain project. What do we want to achieve with it? The considerations vary according to the context. Sometimes certification is a tool, sometimes it is not.
"In our first chain project, the rice from Benin, we very consciously opted for fair-trade certification," says Mieke Vercaeren of Colruyt Group. "The advantage of such an existing standard is that you can start from a detailed roadmap, also when it comes to the minimum price the farmers get. The disadvantage was that the audit costs were too high for a relatively small volume (about 12 tonnes per year). That is why we decided, in consultation with all partners, not to renew the certification. ”
A similar situation occurred with coffee from Congo. Colruyt Group also preferred certification for this coffee from the outset. In dialogue with the farmers' organisation, which was just starting its operations, certification required much effort and too much administration for a relatively small added value. Colruyt Group agreed to wait with the certification and gave the Kawa Kabuya cooperative the space to choose for a certification that would also help them to attract new customers. "If every buyer asks for a different certification, it becomes unworkable," says Joris Aertsens of Rikolto. "In the meantime, Kawa Kabuya's volumes have increased so much that certification has become interesting. "The cooperative opted for an organic label.
In the case of the chocolate from Nicaragua, Colruyt Group originally wanted Fairtrade and organic certification, but the farmers' group La Campesina asked for this requirement to be dropped. They already had the UTZ label and a local label similar to fair-trade, "Selo Pequenos Productores". That label is hardly known in Belgium and so Colruyt Group did not consider it to be of great added value to the market here. Colruyt Group did, however, agree to drop the extra Fairtrade and organic certification requirement.
The quinoa from Peru is certified organic. This was necessary to position the product correctly in the Colruyt and Bio-Planet shops.
Also in this case, the most important thing is consultation and collaboration. Sometimes certification is the best solution, sometimes other solutions work out better. "Certification certainly has an added value, for example in more complex chains", says Karen Janssens. "When, for example, you sell products in which the origin and producers change regularly, for example because of the seasons, certification makes it easier to guarantee traceability and sustainability criteria. "Even in long and complex chains where only a small quantity of certified product is in the end product, certification is actually the only feasible way to offer a number of sustainability guarantees. This is slightly different for products from the chain projects: here we know the origin of the raw material and the farmers well. Together with the producer organisation and the local facilitator (a local actor, such as an NGO), we can guarantee that the chain criteria are respected. It then depends on the cost price and on the product positioning whether and for which certificates we choose".