Earls’ Rocky Road to Conscious Sourcing

On April 27th, 2016, Earls Restaurant made the surprise announcement that they would be the first chain restaurant in North America to source all their beef from Certified Humane farms. The Montreal Gazette recorded Earls spokeswoman Cate Simpson “the company’s commitment to “conscious sourcing” deepened, it spent nearly three years searching for a Certified Humane producer in Canada that could meet its large supply needs.”

The move to Certified Humane beef would allow Earls customers to enjoy top quality beef, that was ethically raised without the use of antibiotics, it indicates a major shift in the attitudes of corporations. It also highlights the increase in the overall education of consumers who are demanding sustainable and ethical products. Sadly, there was one major drawback: Earls stated that they were unable to locate any beef farms in Alberta with third party certification that were large enough to meet their demand. Thus, Earls disclosed that they were going to be sourcing their beef from a certified ranch in Kansas, USA.

The backlash from Canadians was immense. Especially on social media, where people began suggesting boycotting Earls restaurants until they put Alberta beef back on their menu. Many Albertans believed that, if given enough time, farms in the area would be able to meet the requirements to be third party certified.

A week after their initial announcement, Earls was back on social media with an important update. The Globe and Mail notes Earls president, Mo Jessa, apologized for the move away from Canadian beef and stated that “Earls was committed to sourcing beef from local farmers who, importantly, meet their new criteria.” It seems they learned the hard way that, while consumers are willing to pay more for ethically sourced food, but not at the cost of local producers.

By choosing to engage with the local suppliers to improve their practices, Earls has finally struck the right balance with consumers and farmers alike. The road to conscious sourcing has been rocky, but things generally are for pioneers. Earls’ decision to work with Alberta farms, will ensure a few less bumps along the way for other Canadian companies looking to source local and ethical beef in future.

Sources:

Vancouver-based Earls moves to U.S. supplier for beef, cites humane meat policy, Global News

Earls backtracks on move away from Canadian beef, vows to put it back on the menu, Financial Post

‘We made a mistake’: Earls reverses decision on Canadian beef

We want to make this right’: Earls brings back Alberta beef after backlash, CTV News

Earls pledges to get Alberta beef on the menu after switch to U.S. supplier sparks backlash, CBC

 

 

McDonald’s Shows That in the World of Sustainable Purchasing, Size Does Matter

No Drug

McDonald’s recently announced its intention to phase out the use of chicken raised with antibiotics from their 14,000 US stores within two years. They are not the first company to make their product more sustainable; they are not even the first fast-food company to make this shift. What makes this announcement especially exciting is the impact that this decision will have on the entire industry.

Consumer groups, such as Meat Without Drugs and Consumers Union, health organizations, and individuals have been pushing for years for companies to stop using antibiotics in their food. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and many other public health organizations have warned that the misuse of antibiotics on healthy livestock is making these medications less effective for treating disease in people. Whether concerned about the over use of antibiotics and its correlation to the creation of “superbugs”, or worried about the long term affects on human growth patterns, food with antibiotics has been a hot button issue. This type of consumer concern has led to rapid growth in the production and sale of sustainable foods from smaller chain restaurants and local artisanal eateries. For some examples of local eateries see the list below! However, the small size of these types of businesses means they lack the clout to make a noticeable impact on the supply chain.

When it comes to making sustainable purchasing cost-effective and impactful, size matters! Selling an estimated 1.5 billion McNuggets annually, McDonald’s has some real leverage to move poultry suppliers from using antibiotics to using more sustainable methods. If McDonald’s successfully negotiates this transition, opinions are that antibiotic free chicken will start popping up everywhere. According to Jonathan Kaplan, the Natural Resource Defense Council’s food and agriculture program director “This may be a tipping point for antibiotic use in the poultry industry, McDonald’s has so much purchasing power and brand recognition, I think we’re seeing a new industry standard here”.

McDonald’s is a great example of the Reeve Consulting message on the importance of harnessing your supply chain for positive social and environmental impact. With its size alone, McDonald’s has the potential to dramatically shift the fast food industry supply chains! If this transition is as successful as we all hope it will be, we can expect to see McDonald’s continue to roll out more sustainability initiatives across the value chain!

Local Artisanal Eateries in Your Area

Chicken

Bittersweet on Easter Treats

As you plan ahead for your Easter weekend, you might be thinking about Easter egg hunts, or other chocolate goodies that the Easter Bunny will deliver. This year, go beyond planning strategic hiding spots, and consider thinking about the origin of the chocolate you purchase for your friends and loved ones.

Last week, CTV News ran an article called, “The dark side of Easter chocolate,” in which they detailed worrisome ethical concerns in the chocolate supply chain, including child labour and slavery, and a lack of sustainable income for many cocoa farmers in regions such as West Africa.

For those of us who want to feel good about our impact on others and the environment, this isn’t great news. However, you may not have to give up your annual hunt. One place to start is to look for the Fairtrade label when purchasing chocolate. Many companies, like Camino, Endangered Species, and others offer Fairtrade and sustainably-sourced chocolate Easter treats, and even large companies such as Cadbury, Nestle, and Hershey are taking steps toward stronger ethical and environmental performance.

To help you in your pursuit, CTV also cited two resources for finding ethical Easter chocolate: World Vision’s “The Good Chocolate Guide” and the “ChocoFinder” app that will help you find specialty chocolate stores selling ethical products in your area.

This year, look for chocolate that won’t compromise people or planet – we think that’s a decision you can feel really sweet about!

2014 Annual Report Reveals Current Trends & Best Practices in Municipal Sustainable Purchasing in Canada

MCSP 2014 Report Cover PageReeve Consulting and the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (MCSP) recently released the fifth annual MCSP State of the Nation Report, summarizing the latest trends, best practices, examples and case studies of Municipal Sustainable Procurement in Canada. The report provides a wealth of information on how municipalities across Canada are progressing at implementing the practice of sustainable procurement and is a valuable resource for municipal decision-makers looking to implement impactful sustainable procurement programming.

View the full report at http://blog.reeveconsulting.com/resources/

The release of the report also marks the kick-off of the 2015 programming for the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement, which through its collaboration and resource sharing programs will help participating municipalities address challenges and priorities raised in the 2014 State of the Nation report. In addition, the report specifically profiles success stories from each MCSP member municipality. By joining the MCSP in 2015, you can ensure that your municipality’s important sustainable purchasing work will be showcased in the next report, allowing you to highlight your great sustainable purchasing work, both internally and to your city council.

The Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement is led by a steering committee comprised of the cities of Calgary, Edmonton, Kelowna, Ottawa, Saskatoon, and Vancouver, and is being facilitated by Reeve Consulting. Currently the Collaboration includes 13 municipalities from across Canada. Local governments of all sizes are invited to participate.

For more information about this national network, visit the MCSP website

Media Contact:

Tim Reeve

President, Reeve Consulting

Phone: 604-763-6829

Email: tim@reeveconsulting.com

Fair Trade Chocolate: Reasons to Celebrate and Indulge

Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – all perfectly excellent reasons to celebrate with chocolate. Something else we can celebrate is the ever-increasing availability of fair trade chocolate. When you purchase fair trade chocolate farmers in developing countries, receive a reliable and living wage, get a social premium to invest back into their communities. In fact, according to Fairtrade Canada “When chocolate bears the Official Fairtrade Certified logo, it means the cocoa production has been independently monitored, giving you the assurance the manufacturer’s claim is true…Fair trade also encourages sustainable farming, so when purchasing a fair trade products you’re also helping the environment.”

Fair trade chocolate has been available in health stores and specialty markets for years, but confection giants are getting in the game. In 2009 Cadbury made a commitment to use fair trade chocolate in their Cadbury Dairy Milk bars and have since added fair trade Easter Eggs. In 2009 and 2010 they were the world’s largest buyer of fair trade certified cocoa. Kraft, who recently took over Cadbury, has promised to maintain that commitment. Kit Kat, owned by Nestle, is following Cadbury’s example, due to volume, the impact of such large companies using fair trade ingredients is huge and make a real difference to the lives of families in developing countries.

While this exciting move towards the use of fair trade cocoa by large companies is exciting and impactful, it’s important that we don’t forget the Tazamania Proverb “little by little a little become a lot”. There are many artisanal, certified fair trade companies providing top quality chocolate – these specialty chocolate companies are the backbone of the fair trade cocoa movement. These small companies are passionate about making a positive impact in the world rather than just making profit. By choosing to purchase from companies that are fair trade certified, you can feel good about the choice you’ve made and sometimes making the right choice can taste sooooo good.

In a world where your purchases have more influence than your political vote, it is imperative that you take all factors into consideration before pulling out your wallet. 

-Scott Umstattd

Fairtrade Canada

Cadbury Dairy Milk – Fair Trade

Fair Trade Valentine’s Day Gifts

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Flowers for Valentine’s Day: The True Cost of Romance

Whether you ordered your stunning bouquet to be delivered by a singing messenger, or will be running into your local grocer at the last minute, chances are flowers are a big part of your Valentine’s Day. You can’t go wrong with flowers; they’re classic, romantic, aromatic, non-fattening, and a perfect and delicate expression of your love. Of course since it IS a flower holiday, the cost of skyrockets, but just like popcorn at the movies, florists count on your ignoring the cost in favour of the sentiment.

Sadly, the price tag is just one part of the high cost of flowers. Columbia is the second largest exporter of flowers, earning 1.3 billion in 2012. The Guardian recently posted an article about the growing industry and the price paid by the workers. According to the article “Behind the millions of imported flowers we buy every year is a mostly female workforce subjected to low pay and poor conditions”. These women leave their homes and children before dawn, working 16 hours, sustaining repetitive motion injuries and chemical exposure. They work at incredible speeds under tight supervision with minimal breaks, and near holidays such as Valentine’s Day they work double shifts – all of this for $269 per month.

There have been attempts, mostly unsuccessful, to form employee associations; however, members face intimidation and a culture of stigmatization. According to The Guardian, union leader López González’s was suspended without pay for four days simply for requesting a statutory break for her and her fellow workers.

The upside is that there is some slow progress being made with the forming of fair trade organizations that guarantee better conditions. The down side is low participation by Columbian flower farmers, and lack of demand by consumers for fair trade flowers. According to a spokesman for UK importer Quartz Flowers, “What we find in the UK with our customers [is that] if the product is of good quality, is consistent, then they don’t really ask for that [sustainability certification]”.

This year try looking for fair trade flowers, if your local grocer or florist doesn’t have them, ask why not and let them know you are not interested in flowers produced by suffering, impoverished workers. If you can’t find fair trade, don’t panic, there are other options – you can’t go wrong with fair trade chocolates and jewelry!

Florimex Roses – Canada’s Favourite Fair Trade Product 2014

Full Bloom Flowers

Fairtrade Canada

Fairtrade-Chic-Rose-Hand-tied1

Keep Your Friends Close and your Groceries Closer: BC Buy Local

Did you know we are smack in the middle of BC Buy Local Week? BC Buy Local Week takes place annually from December 1 – 7. Click the link at the bottom and watch the video, it will give you a deeper understanding of the HUGE impact that buying local has both on the economy and the environment, and more importantly, how your choices can make your community a better place.

The Buy BC Local website notes that “Local businesses enhance our community, connect and support us socially, and enhance wealth and employment by circulating dollars many times between businesses. Research shows that BC local businesses create more than double the economic impact of their chain competitors.” That means for every $100 you spend with local BC businesses, $46 is re-circulated back into the local economy compared to multi national companies where only $18 is kept locally.

A peruse of the Buy BC Local Newsletter makes it evident that many local businesses tend to be greener, more progressive and healthier. For example, Food.ee: Changing the Catering Business through Locally Sourced Foods and Compostable Packaging, or Modo the Car Coop. Not only are local businesses boosting the economy, they’re looking out for our health and the environment – a win-win-win! Add to that the fact that local businesses provide more support for local events, sports teams and charities and are more likely to buy local services and stock local products themselves – it’s seems a pretty simple choice.

Vancouver has done well with promoting local artisans and grocers. The City of Vancouver website has a devoted page to helping people locate local produce. BC Buy Local is taking the whole BC local movement one giant step forward by unifying the ideals and expanding the definition to include the whole province. In doing so they are providing much-needed information and awareness to build traction and take Buy Local from a concept to a reality.

Check out their website, sign up for the newsletter and find out where you can buy local and make a difference in your community, one dollar at a time. If you are a local vendor, they have information for you too!

Dec 1 – 7 BC Buy Local Week

We’re hiring! Admin Assistant (Vancouver)

We’re excited to announce an open position with Reeve Consulting in Vancouver, BC.

Click on the links below for full job postings and application details.

The position will be filled upon finding a suitable candidate.

Reeve Consulting is a boutique consultancy based in Vancouver, BC specializing in the development and implementation of ethical and sustainable purchasing programming for business, government and non-profit organizations in BC and across North America.

Environmental Sustainability at Putin’s 2014 Russian Olympics

Like other Canadians, I was excited about all the gold medals we won at the Sochi 2014 Olympics, especially in hockey, our national sport, and in giant slalom, a personal favourite of mine. It was an honour to be involved in the event’s development. After serving as a Strategic Advisor for Vancouver’s 2010 Olympics, I was approached by Russian authorities for advice on how to minimize the 2014 Olympics’ effect on the environment.

This wasn’t a minor issue. Sochi is a popular choice for eco-tourism because of its biodiversity and breathtaking natural wonders, and the International Olympic Committee had concerns about the Sochi environment and potential environmental impacts from its role as Olympic host. It was a great opportunity to be able to work with the Sochi environmental team. Many plans and initiative were incorporated into the country’s preparations, which can be seen in detail on the Sochi 2014 website < http://www.sochi2014.com/en/development-harmony>. These changes included habitat restoration, animal resettlement, compensation of the Games’ carbon footprint, innovative waste management systems, and using only wood and paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Many of the Olympic sponsors did their part as well, such as Dow Chemical, who provided a new technology and resources to keep the 2014 Olympics carbon neutral.

Companies such as Dow Chemical recognize the value of associating their brand with an environmentally sustainable Olympics. Of course promoting green practices and sustainability preserves the environment, a priceless goal, but it makes good business sense as well. Sustainable methods create less waste and are therefore more efficient. Furthermore, by getting involved, companies such as Dow show to the world that they’re industry leaders, and that their brand philosophy is about more than simply making a quick buck. It earns them respect, which can be invaluable.

The results of the Sochi 2014 sustainability sadly weren’t perfect. The Russian marketplace was not well-prepared for the demands of a green Olympics and many initiatives weren’t implemented as comprehensively as they could have been. However, it was a definite step in the right direction. Hopefully it will give Russians inspiration for further sustainability initiatives in the future. Certainly the Olympics’ marketing campaign frequently mentioned its use of FSC-approved materials and hopefully that idea has resonated with suppliers. Perhaps in the near future, people will look back on the 2014 Olympics and say that that was a catalyst for a new green movement in Russia.

Event Notice

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Reeve Consulting is participating in a panel at Sustainability Applied 2013 next week. Read more about the panel content & panelists here. Tim will be moderator for the panel “Sourcing and Procurement: Driving Sustainability in Canada and the Role of Supply Chain and Procurement.”