You cannot be a sustainable company all by yourself; you will need the cooperation of other companies in the chain. Possible improvements such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions from products cannot be understood and tackled if you have to do it alone. You will need to cooperate. Using the TSC toolkits, Albron enthusiastically took this up, setting out to cooperate with chain partners. CSM saw this as a good opportunity to highlight the most important sustainability aspects. “Our customers find sustainability increasingly important.”
As one of the largest caterers in the Netherlands, Albron is committed to sustainability; not only in their own work but also for the chain they operate in. The company wants to chart the scores on the most important sustainability themes (such as the greenhouse gas emissions) of all products, and for this purpose, Albron published questionnaires for seven product categories in 2017 and 2018. CSM Bakery Solutions is one of the companies in the chain, producing a wide range of bakery products and bakery ingredients for professional bakers. The originally Dutch company (CSM stands for Centrale Suiker Maatschappij) now has its headquarters in Atlanta (USA) and sells in more than a hundred countries. CSM is Albron’s supplier of all kinds of pre-baked rolls, for example those at Center Parcs.
Get the right information
In consultation, it was decided that CSM would fill in the questionnaire for the Waldkorn Oergranen pre-baked rolls. The ancient grains for these sandwiches come from Hungary and Austria and are processed into sandwiches with other ingredients (such as flour) in Poland. The products then go to the Netherlands. CSM was unable to answer most sustainability questions from its own databases and therefore contacted suppliers. “It took us quite some time to gather the right information, but it also told us a lot,” says Dax Lira, Head of Foodservice Benelux at CSM. “Our customers find sustainability increasingly important, and the questionnaire was a good opportunity for us to highlight the most important sustainability aspects.”
CSM also uses sustainability certificates, but the TSC method works better. Kris van den Wijngaert, Market Excellence manager food services and retail at CSM: "The approach whereby you work with your customers on continuous improvement in a flexible manner ultimately yields more sustainability benefits at lower costs.” Ineke Snijders, Sustainability Manager at Albron, adds: “TSC's method helps us to quickly gain insight into the main issues, which allows discussions on improvements to take place more efficiently. CSM did a great job arranging that.”
Further focus on sustainability
Although Albron did not ask for it, CSM will now also complete the questionnaire for other products. Lira: “It is a good instrument to map out sustainability and identify areas for improvement. With the results, we have already implemented some improvements in the organisation. For example, we have set up a European sustainability task force that includes two employees from our Antwerp office, where we coordinate the delivery to Albron.” The European task force will be mandated to obtain appropriate information from all parts of the company and suppliers, and prioritise the process based on this information. It is primarily a process improvement. The task force makes capacity available, and the mandate ensures that other departments also make it a priority at an earlier stage.
Part of the project is that the customer (Albron) and supplier (CSM) discuss the results on the questionnaires together. WUR prepares these discussions, supervises them and monitors the follow-up. The discussions with Albron also covered topics such as the phasing out of palm oil or full RSPO segregation if there is no fitting substitute product. Other focal points were to gain a better insight into the farms where the ancient grains are produced, to provide insight into greenhouse gas emissions (using an efficient and specific WUR model) and to make packaging more sustainable. Follow-up appointments have even been made to exchange information about health improvements to sandwiches, even though this was outside the scope of the project.