Keeping on top of new regulations can be hard-work. Add in the risk of penalties and, in some cases, being held personally liable, and it’s clear how important it is to ensure audits, records and certifications are kept up-to-date.
These are essential because they ensure you're operating within the confines of the law and enable you to access markets for your product, while more broadly helping protect the reputation of the industry.
However, importantly, there’s also the requirement to align your business with community values. This can be referred to as your “social licence to operate”. While it includes the need for you to act lawfully and ethically, it also means you should consider the broader views and interests of all stakeholders, especially the end-consumer. It includes the non-financial and nonregulatory factors that are linked to trust in your business.
Nearly every piece of research related to the produce industry highlights that a key factor driving consumers is businesses that act in a sustainable and socially responsible manner. Throughout the supply-chain they are looking for evidence that products comply with standards regarding business ethics, human rights, as well as environmental protection. It is not enough for your business to be efficient and show that you operate within the formal regulatory framework. You must be able to demonstrate you are a good employer, a conscientious steward of the land and community minded as well.
MG Marketing has made two important decisions in this space. Firstly, we have introduced a Responsible Sourcing Policy that outlines a set of expectations for growing operations and packhouses supplying MG. These fall under three categories – Worker welfare and safety; Business integrity; and Environmental Practice.
Secondly, to support our goals, MG is making it a requirement for all New Zealand suppliers to be accredited with either NZGAP Social Practice Add-on, GLOBALG.A.P. GRASP or SEDEX/SMETA by the end of 2022. It is important to note that it is mandatory for growers supplying some major retailers through MG to already have one of the social practice certifications.
This is not because we have concerns – quite the opposite. We partner with likeminded business and are confident our suppliers are good employers with well-run operations.
The increased focus is about strengthening trust with our customers and the end consumer and giving them assurance that businesses throughout the supply-chain care about the issues that are important to them.
It’s our social licence to operate.
Peter Hendry - CEO