Responsible Sourcing Q&A with Cher Mereweather, Executive Director, Provision Coalition

Manufacturers are facing increased pressure to source responsibly requiring visibility beyond their direct suppliers. With International events such as work conditions and environmental damage potentially impacting brand reputation  and disrupting the supply chain, higher importance is placed on effective supply chain management with risk identification and contingency planning to enable an informed response.  Knowing what’s happening environmentally and socially across the entire supply chain is part of risk management.

Q: The need for responsible sourcing is adding more complexity to manufacturing. How is Provision supporting manufacturers on this topic?
A: Provision is representing the needs of manufacturers at the Sustainable Farm & Food Plan (SFFP) table working with farm associations, retail and food service to establish confidence in sustainable farm practices for the creation of a transparent food/beverage value chain.

Q: How does SFFP benefit food and beverage manufacturers?
A: Since manufacturers are held accountable by consumers for all aspects of the value chain (see graphic below), visibility to the farm is essential in assuring both retail and consumers that products are responsibly sourced. Providing one Canadian resource on aspects relevant to consumers and buyers will empower manufacturers with a means to transparently and confidently report their responsible sourcing efforts.

Q: What is the role of Provision on behalf of food and beverage manufacturers?
A: Provision is ensuring the proposed program leverages existing provincial, national and international sustainability initiatives (both commodity specific and whole farm) to establish a “made-in-Canada” approach that uniquely and holistically represents the needs of the Canadian food and beverage value chain. Initially, the SFFP will be piloted in Ontario with documented input from farmers, manufacturers, retailers and food service from across Canada. To date, a program gap analysis has been conducted and funding has been secured to solicit input and buy-in for the concept. Provision is actively involved in the next steps that include bringing stakeholders together in workshop formats. The vision is to create a baseline to measure against that takes into account participation in existing sustainability programs. With commitment from all participants, we believe the SFFP will establish the trust and transparency being asked for by the market.

Q: How can we find out more?
A: Provision will continue to share the progress and information coming out of this project. Resources are also available on the Sustainable Farms website.