We spend a lot of our time at work. A familiar and safe working environment is therefore something we all want to achieve. It is important that we are able to show respect when working for and with each other. In order to maintain and reinforce this, Verstegen has drawn up an active policy. This includes such things as preventing and/or reducing sexual harassment, aggression and violence, discrimination, bullying at work, guaranteeing safety in the workplace and reducing the pressure of work.
Verstegen invests a lot in its staff. Also in the people who work in the Fair Trade projects in countries such as Indonesia and India. With Fair Trade, you increase Verstegen’s involvement with the (spice) farmer and you can have much more influence on his operations. As part of CSR, Verstegen makes its contribution to the sub-area 'Mankind' on the following points
There is a great diversity of cultures among the employees of Verstegen Spices & Sauces. Verstegen employs people of more than 25 different nationalities. At Verstegen, everyone gets the same opportunities, from job applications to promotions. In assessing people, it is purely their abilities which count.
Approximately 2/3 of the employees in the production departments do not speak Dutch as their first language. We also employ people not originally from the Netherlands in various management positions. Verstegen adheres to the quality standard that all employees must be able to speak Dutch. People who do not speak Dutch to a sufficient level are given the opportunity to follow language courses.
Opportunities for personal growth
Verstegen invests a lot in its people. We offer our employees a range of opportunities in terms of courses and training to further develop their talents. This is reflected particularly in the fact that many employees have gone a long way within the organisation. Many employees have moved up into management positions. Verstegen believes more in the people themselves than in the qualifications they hold.
Verstegen is trying to gain increasing influence over its own raw materials. Through a chain approach, we are getting a grip on our suppliers with transparency in the chain, the goal being 'direct sourcing'. We have, and are looking for, suppliers for a long-term partnership. Verstegen makes agreements with these suppliers regarding the development of the quality, food safety (HACCP), environmental aspects (use of pesticides, reduction of energy consumption) and social aspects for the individuals’ involved (training, respect, development and a good standard of living).
Tjenkeh Bagus or “beautiful clovers”
For some years, Verstegen has been visiting Ambon, one of the Moluccan islands of Indonesia, for our Nutmeg and Mace projects. As part of these visits, we travel to the mountains to witness the harvests. The nutmeg trees (‘Pala’) are generally interspersed with clove trees (‘Tjenkeh’). This led us to the idea of also producing cloves with our partner on Ambon in accordance with our own Fair Trade working method.
Cloves originally come from the Moluccas and in previous centuries found their way to various parts of the world thanks to merchants (Comoros Islands, Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, etc.). Historically, Verstegen has valued the Indonesian clove very highly for its fine brown colour and subtle flavour.
Within the project, Verstegen has begun training people to select cloves on quality. In 2010, we started buying small quantities of cloves from local farmers. The farmers receive a good price, which includes a premium for quality. That means even more employment for the people from Desa Hila (Hila Village, Ambon) through the project, while Verstegen gets the finest quality cloves from Indonesia!
A large part of the fresh range for supermarkets and specialist stores has been upgraded with dry spices or marinades. This upgrading relates primarily to meat, poultry, fish and fruit & vegetables. A leading product group used for these upgrades are the Spice Oils and World Grills from Verstegen. Certainly in stores which prize quality, you will find an attractive range of marinated products deliciously brushed or mixed with one of Verstegen's many kinds of Spice Oils or World Grills.
In Indonesia too, on Ambon to be precise, Verstegen has found a partner. A Dutch - Ambonese family set up a company there. Here, the nuts are selected and processed in a responsible way. A small-scale production location has been built where work can be carried out in accordance with HACCP standards. In this way, employment is offered to a large number of families in Hila, a village on the north coast of Ambon.
By intensifying contact with the farmers, Verstegen can teach them how to work in a hygienic way to achieve even better quality. There are extra rewards for compliance with the Verstegen standard and eventually risks will be eliminated as a result. Finally, the whole community is supported through projects in different areas. For instance, street lighting was financed and computers for the local school were shipped over.
In Sirsi Karnataka (India), Verstegen has launched a Fair Trade vanilla project. Verstegen purchases vanilla from a cooperative of approximately 60 vanilla farmers. These farmers all have their own piece of land on which they cultivate vanilla. None of the farmers use chemical pesticides or fertilisers and a large part of the crop is, therefore, already certified organic. To guarantee the quality, Verstegen has started a processing procedure in order to standardise the vanilla pod. This means that the farmers collectively dry and ferment the beans so that the end product is of a high standard and constant in terms of quality.
Together with Verstegen, the current situation of the farmers in terms of knowledge, standard of living and the necessary facilities has, of course, been examined and a plan has been drawn up on how Verstegen’s Fair Trade premium will be spent. The project meets our own standard, the Verstegen Fair Trade Standard, which was chosen because it is a quick, practical and effective method that corresponds with Verstegen’s no-nonsense philosophy. The Verstegen standard is based on internationally accepted norms.
For instance, a machine was sent from the Netherlands to India, by means of which the beans can be vacuum packed, as well as the necessary packaging material. With instructions from Verstegen, the vanilla beans are individually wrapped so that the product maintains its high quality
A large part of the fresh range for supermarkets and specialist stores has been upgraded with dry spices or marinades. This upgrading relates primarily to meat, poultry, fish and fruit & vegetables. A leading product group used for the upgrades are the Spice Oils and World Grills from Verstegen. Certainly in stores which prize quality, you will find an attractive range of marinated products deliciously brushed or mixed with one of Verstegen's many kinds of spice oils or World Grills products.
Issues with oil marinades
There is currently much debate about the health aspects of food. Alongside salt and sugar, fat is one of the causes of obesity. Deep frying, the use of creamy and fatty foods and, not least, using "too much of everything" also all contribute this problem. If oil-based marinades are used, the oils and fats they contain should be carefully selected for their fatty acid composition.
Using the minimum amount of saturated fatty acids and striking the right balance in the use of unsaturated fatty acids is very important. The much discussed hydrogenated fats and trans fats should not be present, or only in absolute minimum quantities.
The World Grills from Verstegen comply with these strict requirements - in fact, extra Omega 3-6-9 fatty acids have been added. Initiatives to optimise the fatty acid balance in products containing oil, such as the World Grills, are voluntary, which means that each party is expected to take its own responsibility in this regard.
The starting point of Verstegen’s integrity policy is that employees must cooperate on the basis of a shared vision of the company and its objectives, within which the shared responsibility for each other’s performance is clear. People trust one another because everyone assumes, even without laws and sanctions that they are helping in this way to make the company as a whole successful. In such a culture, fraud is not likely to occur. For this reason, core values have been formulated as part of the mission statement. These are core values which run through all of the processes in the organisation and which do not give way for short-term gain or shifts in the market. Core values can cover such concepts as: reliability, respect, integrity and quality.
In addition to this, it is important to avoid integrity risks. Certain important activities, such as the purchase of goods and their payment, are separated and performed by different employees, in order to prevent fraud.
Verstegen also has a policy when it comes to accepting business gifts. Every year, a mail shot is drafted and sent to all our business relations. In it, Verstegen states that employees prefer not to receive business gifts, but would be pleased if a contribution was made to the good cause that we too will be supporting that year. If an employee is involved in integrity violations, however, they can see a counsellor.
We spend a great deal of our time at work. A familiar and safe working environment is therefore something we all strive for. It is important that we must be able to work with respect for each other at Verstegen. Both the employer and the employee must ensure that we retain this valuable possession.
In order to retain and strengthen this, the organisation must have a policy to prevent psychosocial work-related stress. Examples of this could include preventing and/or reducing sexual harassment, aggression and violence, discrimination, bullying on the shop floor and reducing the pressure of work, etc.
For this reason, Verstegen, in collaboration with the occupational health and safety committee and the Works Council, has drawn up a policy aimed at preventing and/or limiting psychosocial work-related stress as much as possible. The topics covered in this policy include the following: bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination, aggression and violence, safety at work, etc. In this way, Verstegen not only cares for its staff, but also ensures a good atmosphere in the departments.
The safety of the employees at Verstegen Spices & Sauces is very important. In a factory in which many complex production processes are taking place, it is important that employees know the risks but are also able to act whenever dangerous situations occur.
For this reason, Verstegen has two groups tasked with assuring safety within the company: a First Aid group, which comes together once a year to refresh its knowledge; and a large In-House Emergency Response group consisting of 40 employees from all different departments. This group comes together four times per year to refresh its knowledge and practice particular situations. For example, they regularly practice carrying the wounded using different methods, finding the exits in the dark, putting out small fires and lots of other activities.
When they join the company, all employees receive information about what to do in case of fire, evacuation alarms and accidents. Additionally, they are given information about what to do if they need First Aid.
Verstegen Spices & Sauces BV aims to continue its growth in the years to come. If it is to do so, capable and motivated employees will be one of the most important factors. Our employees must be given the opportunity to grow and develop their full potential as the company grows. Alongside lots of practical experience, offering courses is very important in this regard. In order to be able to further expand in-house training and courses, in 2013 we set up the “Verstegen Academy”. Within the Academy, there are two splendid theory classrooms, one practical classroom, a canteen and a self-study area. The space is equipped in such a way that, as well as our own employees, other companies, schools and institutions can also use it.