Together with the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), KIT conducted research into the costs and benefits of making spice trade more sustainable. Looking at the case of Vietnamese black pepper, we were able to recommend important aspects of trade to invest in, for instance in improving agricultural systems and involving the food industry in sustainable trade.
Interventions for performance improvement
Black pepper, by volume, is the world’s most widely traded spice and its largest producer is Vietnam. Therefore, looking at the spice trade there would yield important insights for many companies in the sector. The Rainforest Alliance is a globally recognised certification scheme that requires rigorous standards set by the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN). We looked at the costs of acquiring and applying these standards, and whether they are worth the investment for both farmers and industry.
The project involved:
- desk research into sector supply chain,
- in-depth interviews with farmers,
- local stakeholder meetings,
- meeting with European market players, and
- benchmarking with Vietnamese SAN-certified coffee and Indonesian SAN-certified pepper.
Specifically, we found that farmers need to be supported in increasing sustainable crop yield and product quality, whilst limiting the impact on their surrounding environment. We also found ways that traders could encourage sustainable farming further down the supply chain, with the support of exporters and Western manufacturers. These interventions would make a positive business case for the sourcing, production and marketing of use of sustainable pepper from Vietnam.