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What does supplier engagement entail? A lesson from our work with Cargill

As Cargill release their latest sustainability progress report, Daniel Arancibia summarises some of the supplier engagement work we have been doing with them.

Supplier engagement and site verifications are a powerful aid in understanding both a company’s expectations towards its suppliers and the suppliers’ awareness of the company’s sustainability commitments and what is needed to comply with them. Without mutual understanding of the motivations and realities on the ground, the exercise of checking companies against a verification protocol can become mere box-ticking. With proper supplier engagement it is possible to ensure willingness, access to information and identify opportunities for collaboration.

As part of Proforest's supplier engagement programme with Cargill, three site verifications were recently conducted in Latin America. The visits provided a good insight into the key issues that need to be addressed by suppliers to meet Cargill’s sourcing commitments.

Deforestation and ensuring that contractors abide by the same social practices as the mill were the main challenges identified.

The key challenge related to deforestation is that there is little to no knowledge or practical experience of the High Carbon Stock (HCS) approach and RSPO new planting procedures (NPP).

To help address this, capacity building and training activities on HCS and NPP will be organised, including practical experience training on how to implement HSC procedures. In addition, landscape level HCS studies and maps can help guide suppliers in selecting areas to expand.

The gaps on social issues relate to difficulties in ensuring that independent suppliers and smallholders also apply good health and safety procedures. The visit made clear that improvements need to be made on storage and management of dangerous chemicals and in the use of personal protection equipment. It will become part of the action plan of the mill to more actively engage with independent suppliers and smallholders on health and safety procedures and to raise awareness of already existing good practices of the mill.

As suppliers understand more about the commitments made by Cargill, they can work together to meet the company’s ambitious responsible sourcing commitments.

Read Cargill's Palm Oil Progress Update here.

Published 14.09.2016

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