On 27th May 2021, the Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative (SSCI), a Coalition of Action from The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), hosted a webinar to launch its new benchmark scopes, Primary Production and At-Sea Operations. With the development of Social and Scheme Management Criteria for each sectoral scope and their publication in early May, the SSCI Benchmark is now open for applications from third-party auditing, certification and monitoring schemes working in the manufacturing and processing, agriculture, aquaculture, and seafood sectors.

The development of the new SSCI Criteria for these two scopes is the result of the SSCI’s ongoing collaboration with the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI), which operates an environmental benchmark, to create a social benchmark for the seafood sector as well. The project has been supported by IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative.

The webinar started with an introduction from Richard Smucker, Executive Chairman of The J.M. Smucker Company, and the CGF Board Co-sponsor of the SSCI Coalition. He thanked the audience for their time, and congratulated the SSCI, GSSI, IDH, and the Technical Working Groups on reaching this significant milestone in the SSCI’s development. 

Afterwards, SSCI Senior Manager, Thomas van Haaren, introduced Tony Bruggink, Global Director of Food Crops and Ingredients at IDH. In his remarks, he also congratulated the team on the accomplishment, and explained how the many programmes operated by IDH benefit from the SSCI, explaining how the SSCI Criteria are one of the tools they use to measure the credibility of the schemes they accept 

Among its different sectoral projects, Tony said “the SSCI has been a real instrument in creating uniformity in these sectors,” adding that given the SSCI is a project from the CGF, it sends a strong message that the SSCI’s work to drive industry and stakeholder alignment in social sustainability practices is critically important.

Thomas then explained what the SSCI is and how it works, and took a deeper dive into the new Criteria developed for the Primary Production and At-Sea Operations scopes. Each set of criteria was modelled off the original SSCI criteria published for its Manufacturing and Processing scope, but adapted to incorporate sector-relevant needs and contexts. He also shared that the first scheme to apply for benchmarking under the At-Sea Operations scope has completed their application.

SSCI Officer Sairindri Christisabrina then introduced the three guests who joined the event as panellists for a Q & A session: Hugo Byrnes, Vice President Product Integrity, Ahold Delhaize, and SSCI Co-chair; Steve Fisher, Sustainability Director, SeaDelight; and Miguel Angel Tordersillas,  Executive Chairman, Novanam Ltd

Each shared their perspectives and reflected on the development of the ASO and PP Criteria; Hugo as co-chair, Steve as an At-Sea Operations Technical Working Group member; and Miguel as a GSSI partner who uses the SSCI Criteria as a basis for his responsible sourcing guidelines. After the panel Sairindri shared her three key takeaways from the discussion, which were:

  • The development of the ASO and PP Criteria was a learning journey for everyone involved. 
  • The SSCI benchmark process is a tool in the responsible sourcing toolkit for businesses and organisations. 
  • The involvement of stakeholders in the criteria development process was critical.

The webinar concluded with final remarks from Richard Smucker, who compared the SSCI to the CGF’s successful Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), noting that SSCI was on its way to becoming the “next GFSI.”He concluded with a call to action for scheme owners to apply for Benchmarking and for stakeholders to stay involved to support the SSCI’s development. 

For more information about the SSCI Benchmark and to download the Criteria and Application Form, visit benchmark.tcgfssci.com. To monitor the progress of current benchmark applicants, visit recognition.tcgfssci.com