“Everyone in the F&B industry should be thinking about the next generation”
The company, part of the Dutch agricultural cooperative Royal Cosun, produces a portfolio of purees, puree concentrates, juice concentrates, NFC juices and IQFs. These are produced from 35 fruits and 15 vegetables, ranging from strawberries, raspberries and kiwis to carrots. Product applications include juices, beverages, dairy, ice cream, bakery and confectionery.
Speaking from the company’s Rijkevorsel factory in Belgium, Johan Cerstiaens, Commercial Director, SVZ, explains what sustainability means to the company.
SVZ made its 100% sustainable sourcing commitment in 2017, a commitment made over its 150ecompany anniversary. Five years later, he is happy with his accomplishments so far: but knows there are challenges to meet the 100% goal. It currently stands at around 65% sustainably sourced: but progress has been made to date with the largest suppliers.
The next step is to work with smaller suppliers: who do not necessarily have the same experience or the same know-how as the larger ones in terms of sustainable certification approaches.
The quality and taste of fruit and vegetables are important to SVZ, but it does not have the same demands as retail consumers for perfect-looking fruit. One of its suppliers – a strawberry farm downstairs from the Rijkevorsel processing plant – sends the vast majority of its strawberries to supermarkets. The remaining 5%, however, is not deemed good enough for retail customers: and so it comes down to SVZ.
And the company believes there are even more opportunities for it to get involved in giving a second life to fruit that would otherwise go to waste.
Another sustainability factor considers food miles throughout the supply chain. The company’s Rijkevorsel factory is in the heart of Belgium’s northwest fruit region, meaning it can source many ingredients locally. Along with investments in more efficient processing at the facility, the company believes this site can serve as a model for its other facilities around the world.
SVZ has four processing plants located in the United States (Othello, Washington State); Poland (Tomaszów); Spain (Almonte) and Belgium (Rijkevorsel).
“Only by changing our own mindset – and that of our stakeholders – can we transform our business and implement real positive change in our supply chain. This is why we are passionate about introducing new sustainable initiatives and sharing knowledge with our partner farmers – so that more environmentally friendly ways of thinking can be introduced and sustained at all levels of SVZ.
A new investment in the Belgian factory will reduce heat consumption and explore new ways to reuse the energy spent. The US plant has strengthened its mash line and invested in new automation technology to further streamline the production process, while a recent investment in water treatment helps clean and reuse water.
Meanwhile, the Almonte site has recently been fitted with solar panels and a new cold storage facility built to reduce reliance on third party storage and transport; and in Poland, the concentrate line at the Tomaszów plant was reinforced.
And finally, the company sees itself as part of a much larger effort to lead the food industry towards a sustainable future.
At one end of the chain, he works with small farmers to help them become more sustainable.
At the other end, it is collaborating with F&B manufacturing giants to make bigger changes in its supply chain (for example, it has partnered with Danone and Indian company Mother Dairy on a sponsorship program toilets for remote mango growers across India: not only improving overall hygiene for workers, but also making farms more attractive to female workers).