Gerard Versteegh is the president of Tradin Organic, the world’s leading supplier of organic ingredients. Founded in the early 1980s, the company is known for its efforts in quality control and traceability, and for ensuring organic integrity and security of supply. With the aim of promoting strong and sustainable supply chains, Tradin Organic is also one of the founding members of the Organic Processing and Trade Association (OPTA).
How do you connect with the producers and develop projects with them?
We have an extensive international team of locally stationed field scouts and agronomists who work directly with local farmers and processors to initiate and support conversion projects, scout for new suppliers, ingredients or ideas and more generally continuously ensure the quality and organic integrity of our products. This local presence has enabled us to build a number of successful sourcing projects that provide us with a steady and secure supply of a wide range of organic ingredients. We also assist local organic farmers by organizing trainings and offering technical and financial support.
How unique and project – country – ingredient specific are these projects?
In many of our own sourcing projects we are true pioneers and achieve things that haven’t been done before. For instance, our project for organic avocado oil in Ethiopia or our project for organic cocoa in Sierra Leone. In Sunvado – our project for organic avocado oil, the avocados grow mostly on organic coffee farms where the farmers use the avocado trees to provide shade for their coffee. Before we opened our facility in Sunvado the farmers did not have a market for their organic avocados and most of the avocados were not collected or harvested and left in the field.
In many of our own sourcing projects we are true pioneers
How has the pandemic affected organic production and trading worldwide?
COVID-19 has made it more difficult for us to travel to our sourcing locations around the world and meet with new leads and potential suppliers. The pandemic also disrupted the global supply chains and because of the ports being closed, slowed down the sea freights causing logistical issues.
How important is organic integrity? Are you seeing an increment of fraud in organic ingredients production worldwide?
Organic integrity is at the true core of our business. There have always been challenges related to fraud in the global organic market, but because of our extensive knowledge of the market and our sourcing teams stationed at the origin, we have always stayed on top and secured the organic integrity of our ingredients.
We secure a steady supply of trustworthy organic ingredients
How important is for the global organic market to count on the availability of trustworthy organic ingredients?
The consumer demand for organic ingredients is continuously growing and because of conventional practices, climate change and pollution it is becoming increasingly challenging to find new organic sources. At Tradin we have been pioneers in the organic market for more than 25 years which makes us experts in this field.
Fortunately, through our global network of agronomists and our own processing plants at key locations around the world, we have been able to secure our customers with a steady supply of trustworthy organic ingredients.
How does Tradin Organic manage the traceability of the ingredients?
As I mentioned earlier, we have our team of locally stationed agronomists to ensure that all our ingredients are completely traceable from farm to customer. On top of that we have implemented digital traceability tools allowing us to map the organic land at the source and directly connect it to the farmer responsible for it.
The consumer demand for organic ingredients is continuously growing and because of conventional practices, climate change and pollution it is becoming increasingly challenging to find new organic sources
You practice sustainability even beyond organic. Why and how?
The why is simple: we need to secure healthy ingredients for now and many generations to come, hence a sustainable business is essential. Tradin Organic works with integrated supply chains and forms the link between farmers and retail. By managing the entire chain, from the farmer to the packer, we can guarantee organic integrity and be able to go the extra mile, to go beyond organic. We work with our own sourcing teams who have contact with more than 300,000 farmers worldwide. Tradin Organic assists farmers by sharing knowledge and offering technical and financial support. This is another way in which we live up to our philosophy: strengthening future-proof, sustainable supply chains.
Will regenerative organic agriculture be the future of food and farming?
I believe that regenerative agriculture should not replace organic agriculture. Instead, regenerative organic goes one step further than organic. Through a focus on demonstratable improved soil quality, biodiversity, and its attention to social aspects at farms and factories regenerative organic quantifies a positive impact and rewards farmers who manage their system in a holistic and future-proof way. Only if we protect our soils, will we be able to grow enough nutritious food to feed our planet.
Author: Oriol Urrutia, Co-Editor
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