We are proud that our Ben & Jerry’s ice creams were the first in the world to use Fairtrade (FT) ingredients, helping to raise awareness of this issue amongst consumers. By the end of 2011 in Europe, the five key commodities that we need to buy to make our ice creams (sugar, cocoa, coffee, vanilla and bananas) were converted to Fairtrade. This was ahead of target. Despite challenges, we have made continued to make good progress since then, although we have not achieved our ambition by the end of 2013.
Converting the rest of our ice creams is a major undertaking, involving around 200 ingredients for nearly 90 flavours. In 2011 we reported setbacks in the US which meant that we could not source all the FT-certified ingredients we needed for our US business. We found that FT ingredients were simply not available or did not meet our specifications for a range of the ingredients we use (such as some nuts and spices). So we had to revise our target from our previous ‘all ingredients’ to ‘all flavours’.
In 2012 we worked with Fairtrade International to adjust our US conversion plan and identified that by using FT ingredients for the five major commodities in all our base mixes and for our chunks and swirls, all our ice cream flavours would qualify for Fairtrade certification by 2013.
We have made good progress on this target, with 100% of our flavours in Europe achieving Fairtrade certification, and 77% globally by the end of 2013. In 2013 we decided to source only non-GMO ingredients. This added a vast amount of complexity to our supply chain, as some 20% of our ingredients are potentially GMO (such as corn syrup, soya lecithin and sugar beet). We therefore took the decision to launch the final conversion phase for Fairtrade flavours and non-GMO ingredients in April 2014. We expect the roll-out to be completed by October 2014.
By reaching for an even more ambitious conversion plan, Ben & Jerry’s is not only strengthening our business, but opening the gates for other companies successfully to convert to Fairtrade ingredients. In doing so, we are helping to create a growing global marketplace for smallholder Fairtrade producers.