What Fedima’s Code of Conduct demands from bakery ingredient suppliers

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: GettyImages/NikiLitov
Pic: GettyImages/NikiLitov

Related tags FEDIMA responsible sourcing Bakery ingredients Transparency diversity and inclusion Animal welfare compliance EU Regulations Child labor suppliers

The Federation of European Manufacturers and Suppliers of Ingredients to the Bakery, Confectionery and Patisseries has re-endorsed its commitment towards building a more sustainable baking sector.

While specifically aimed at its members – representing over 200 companies across 13 European countries –​ Fedima’s revised Code of Conduct is also a best practice guide for all suppliers of the bakery and patisserie industry across the continent.

“The European bakery ingredients industry that Fedima represents is operating halfway along the supply chain – between ‘farm’ and fork – uniquely placed at the crossroads between production and consumption of baked products,” said Jean-Philippe Michaux, chair of Fedima’s Sustainability Committee.

“Responsible sourcing is a growing challenge to all operators of the bakery value chain and our members are eager to play their part in supplying ingredients that are responsibly sourced to the European bakery sector and its consumers.”

Fedima's third annual Baking Europe Ingredients Market Report also includes guidelines on responsible sourcing, along with front-of-pack labeling and communication trends. Read here for more information.

Fedima’s members have committed to the shared standards set in the Code and as such, demand the respect of these standards by suppliers. In fact, those ingredient suppliers that have not established their own Code of Conduct are encouraged to align with Fedima’s Code.

The Code’s standards include compliance with existing laws and regulations, as well as the quality and safety of products and raw materials, ethical business practices and respect for human rights. A healthy and safe work environment, the minimization of environmental impact, attention to animal welfare, supply chain transparency and continuous improvement are also identified as key principles to abide by.

“Fedima is showing its proactiveness and commitment to making our industry progressively more sustainable and ethical,” said Fedima president Thomas Lesaffre.

“Promoting responsible sourcing can often be a challenge, especially for small and medium companies in the bakery supply chain. Now, even the companies that have not established their own supplier code of conduct yet can use Fedima’s Code and its shared standards as a responsible sourcing base to rely on.”

Fedima regularly reviews and updates the Code to reflect changes in applicable laws, regulations and best practices.

Position paper

Fedima’s Sustainability Committee has approved the following guidelines to help companies implement this Code of Conduct (or implement their own, if inspired by this one).

Compliance with laws and regulations

Suppliers must comply with applicable laws and regulations related to food safety, environmental protection, labor and human rights. Particular attention must be given to laws and regulations of the EU and associated European countries. Suppliers must also adhere to any relevant international conventions and agreements related to responsible sourcing.

Quality and safety of products

Suppliers must ensure the quality and safety of their products and raw materials by implementing appropriate measures to prevent contamination, adulteration and other hazards that could harm consumers’ health.

Ethical business practices

Suppliers must conduct their business operations in an ethical manner, including avoiding bribery and corruption, and complying with anti-trust and competition laws.

Respect for human rights

  • No forced or compulsory labor, including slavery, human trafficking or child labor, is permitted in any part of the supply chain.
  • Workers must be treated with respect and dignity and provided with fair wages and benefits, including working hours that do not exceed local laws or industry standards. Workers also have the right to form or join a trade union.
  • Any form of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion or any other protected category will not be tolerated. Suppliers should promote and respect diversity in their labor practices and operations.
  • Recognition and respect of the rights of women, communities and traditional peoples to maintain access to land and natural resources. Acquisition of land for agricultural purposes must adhere to the principle of free, prior and informed consent of all communities.

Health & safety

A safe and healthy working environment is a fundamental principle and right at work defined by the International Labour Organization. As such, suppliers must ensure a safe and hygienic work environment for their workers by controlling, restricting or preventing hazards like:

  • Biological hazards, including exposure to bacteria, fungi, viruses, microorganisms and toxins.
  • Psychosocial hazards, which is defined as work-related stress and burnout.
  • Physical hazards, including ergonomic hazards, radiation, heat and cold stress, vibration hazards and noise hazards.

More guidance is provided by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA).

Suppliers must also guarantee, as a minimum, access to clean toilet facilities and drinkable water. Physical, verbal or mental abuse or punishment as well as sexual harassment and other forms of intimidation, is also prohibited.

Environment

Suppliers must take steps to minimize the environmental impact of their operations and supply chains, including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, minimizing waste and pollution and promoting the sustainable use of natural resources.

In particular, suppliers must ensure sustainable agricultural practices and prevent activities that causes deforestation in a direct or indirect way. This particularly applies to producers of palm oil, cacao, soy, wood and paper.

Animal welfare

Suppliers must ensure the welfare of animals in their activities and their supply chain is respected and protected, including the implementation of appropriate animal welfare standards, providing appropriate living conditions and avoiding cruel practices.

At a minimum, suppliers should be able to demonstrate compliance to current EU regulation (Council Directive 98/58/EC) in terms of animal welfare, even for products derived from Extra EU. All ‘five liberties’ should be guaranteed:

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst
  • Freedom from discomfort
  • Freedom from pain, injury and disease
  • Freedom to express normal behaviour
  • Freedom from fear and distress

These aspects should be demonstrated by collecting and correctly managing all the required documentation required for the transfer and use of animal products in the European union (eg, sourcing only from approved establishments, health certificates for products of animal origin, periodic auditing).

Certifications active in this area include ISO / TS 34700: 2016; GlobalG.A.P., AGreenerWorld, Humane Farm Animal Care and Global Animal Partnership.

Supply chain transparency

Suppliers must strive for transparency, including the identification of potential risks in the supply chain and taking steps to address those risks.

To demonstrate compliance, suppliers can choose to independently implement these requirements or obtain third party certifications demonstrating compliance with these aspects, either in a generic way (for example, implementing a company-wide ISO 22005 traceability certification) or by selectin specific raw materials groups (palm oil, soy, cocoa).

Certifications active in this area include Rainforest Alliance, Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, Fairtrade, Roundtable on Responsible Soy and so forth.

Suppliers are also encouraged to share best practices and collaborate with Fedima members to promote their responsible sourcing practices.

Continuous improvement

Suppliers must commit to continuous improvement in their responsible sourcing practices. This includes setting measurable goals, tracking progress and regularly reporting on their efforts to improve.

Adherence to the Code

Lesaffre noted that all of Fedima’s members fully endorsed the Code of Conduct.

“This is proof that the entire bakery ingredients industry is ready to come together and play its part in advancing common responsible sourcing practices,” he said.

Using a risk assessment approach, the Association recommends customers to have a robust compliance system in place. This should include:

Monitoring

Suppliers should be required to monitor their compliance to these responsible sourcing standards and, more importantly, should be able to demonstrate such compliance.

Auditing

Companies should reserve the right to monitor compliance themselves or through a third-party independent organization via inspection and onsite audits of the suppliers and their production sites.

Corrective actions

The supplier’s failure to observe the Code should necessitate them to implement corrective measures previously agreed upon.

Termination of the relationship

Customers should be entitled to terminate a contract, an agreement or the entire business relationship, should:

  • the supplier be non-compliant with the Code or is unable or unwilling to apply corrective measures.
  • the supplier have committed an obvious and substantial breach to the standards of this Code.

To demonstrate compliance, suppliers can choose to independently implement these requirements or obtain third party certifications demonstrating compliance with these aspects. A non-exhaustive list of certifications is active in this area, including Sedex (Smeta audits, where Safety and People pillars are included), Sa 8000 and Ecovadis, among others.

Fedima is composed of national associations across 13 EU countries, representing an estimated 26,133 direct employees across Europe, which collectively bring in €6.7bn in annual turnover.

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