In the 80s and 90s, it was common for companies to highlight that their products had a quality certificate or that they integrated quality practices into their processes. Today, these types of announcements are hardly heard anymore. Not because attention is no longer being paid to it, but because all companies already have it integrated into their operation and it is understood that is the way that it has to be
Something similar is happening with sustainability. As is mentioned by Jessica Jiménez, Director of Sustainability Advisory at the KPMG Mexico consultancy. “With sustainability the same thing is happening: for now it is a differentiator but if you do not add it to your business, you run the risk of being left out of the market”.
The Sustainable Development in Mexico 2020 study, by the business consultancy KPMG, indicates that 9 out of 10 executives of large organizations and SMEs nationwide consider that sustainability is a concept that should be integrated into the business strategy.
For Jiménez, having certificates, badges or seals that accredit you as a socially and / or environmentally responsible company is something that pays off the effort. Among many other benefits, it helps improve the commercial and reputational position of businesses, regardless the size of the company.
“This type of certificates help to organize their they company operation, to better monitor indicators and to make their results more transparent,” adds the KPMG Mexico board of directors. “In the medium term, proving that you are a sustainable company will become a matter of commercial benefit. Companies will make the evaluation of their suppliers more based on it. Even to export and obtain financing, showing that you are focused on sustainability will be a subject for evaluation”.
In short, demonstrating a social and environmental commitment does add to the value and profitability of your company; however, you have to take care how to do it.
Jessica Jiménez’s first recommendation to have reliable certifications: “In the world we can find of everything… there are some that are not bad but whose objective is much more commercial than operational or that are very incipient in the market, which reduces the desired impact for the company ”.
All companies, depending on their industry and their operation, have different impacts. For example, a restaurant has much less impact on water consumption than a soft drink company. The specialist also advises to analyze very well which is the sustainable label that will have the greatest positive influence on the operation of the business.
The Sustainability Advisory Director of the KPMG consultancy highlights the case of the government’s certifications or by highly prestigious organizations, such as the United Nations Global Compact an initiative that is well-positioned internationally labor, environmental and social issues.
Next, we visit four institutions and the certificates they promote, which can add value to companies in the food and beverage sector.
It is the largest corporate social responsibility initiative in the world, involving more than 11,500 companies in 156 countries. To adhere to it, in principle, the CEO of the company must commit to aligning its strategies and operations with the Ten Principles of the Global Compact on labor, environment, human rights and anti-corruption, in addition to taking measures that promote the Development Goals Sustainable of the UN.
There are two levels of relationship with the Global Compact: signatories and participants, with different benefits and costs. Among which are obtaining a Best Practices Guide and constant support to evaluate, define, implement and communicate your sustainability strategy.
The Global Compact for Mexico ranges from giants, such as Nestlé México and La Costeña, to SMEs, such as the Productora de Semillas Nava, located in Chihuahua.
Costs: These are defined according to the company’s annual sales in dollars. Mexican companies that have revenues of less than 25 million dollars a year must make a symbolic contribution of 250 dollars a year to be signatories and 1,250 dollars to be participants. Both levels of participation can make use of the Global Compact logo.
The Rainforest Alliance (RA) declares itself as an international non-profit organization that works “to create a more sustainable world by using social and market forces to protect nature and improve the lives of farmers and foresters.”
RA has a certification seal that focuses on good agricultural, social and natural resource protection practices throughout the entire supply chain, from the producer to the supermarket.
“It is a certification standard where we give traceability to the product throughout all the transformation stages to provide certainty that it is created and transformed based on our three pillars of sustainability: social, economic and environmental”, explains Irvin Hernández, specialist in Certification and Training of RA Latin America.
This RA certification is only for the following products: coffee, cocoa, tea, fruits, flowers, hazelnuts and vegetables. In Mexico, there are 83 producer farms and 22 certified supply chain companies. In the world, RA counts more than two million certificates in 70 countries.
The main benefits that participants companies achieve through the process according to the RA specialist is a better management of their natural, human and economic resources, and the prestige of the certification seal that helps to obtain better income not only for farmers, but also to those who transform and market the products.
“We have alliances with large retail companies so that on their shelves it is a priority to have products with our certification scheme. This is a guarantee that there will be demand for products under the RA seal”, Hernández concludes.
The requirements to obtain the so-called “seal of the frog” are different for producing farms, processors or marketers, but RA offers guides to find step-by-step solutions.
Cost: RA certification has no cost, but the certification audit necessary to obtain it does, which is carried out by a third party certifications entity. The amount depends on several factors such as the type of product, the geographic region or if several farms decide to associate.