Society

Verstegen wishes to set an example when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility. This means playing an active role in discussions in this field. With every discussion platform, its impact and scope will have to be re-assessed. Verstegen also has an internal social workshop, which involves considering whether or not someone can be given a place in the regular production process. A highly successful and satisfying way of working for society, the people involved and Verstegen.

Transparency and communication are keywords when it comes to CSR. That is to say that, in the first instance, you share plans and the results achieved with all Verstegen employees, but the wider society also enters into this. As a result, you achieve involvement but possibly also a sense of pride. As part of CSR, Verstegen makes its contribution to the sub-area 'Society' on the following points.

Ambon Indonesië

Verstegen has been buying nutmeg and mace from Indonesia under a Fair Trade agreement for years. Nutmeg originally comes from the Moluccan islands and the best and tastiest nutmeg is still produced there. As such, it is the only quality Verstegen wants to use. Together with the Ollong family and the firm Ollop PT, we work to source the best quality nutmeg and mace. Verstegen pays a slightly higher price than the market rate and in exchange, investments are made which improve working conditions and increase quality. Verstegen people regularly travel to Ambon to discuss progress, to help and to share knowledge.

Nutmeg is still gathered in the forests of Ambon in the traditional way. It couldn't be more natural. The men go into the forests and collect the fruits. The women work at the company site to select the best quality. This means there are many people working for Verstegen, so ensuring a good income in the village. When another delegation from Verstegen visited Ambon in June 2010, it was given a heart-warming reception, with the women there preparing a fine meal in gratitude. The delegation also heard a long speech of thanks from the village headman.

That feels great, of course, but the gratitude is mutual because the care with which these people handle the spices ensures excellent quality.
What a lot of people don't know is that mace and nutmeg come from the same fruit. The kernel is the nutmeg, surrounded by the shell, around which comes the beautiful mace and finally the flesh of the fruit. Although there are overlapping flavour notes, mace and nutmeg each have their own quite distinctive characters.

Biodiversity Banka

Pepper from Banka

Since it was founded, Verstegen has been buying white pepper from the Indonesian island of Banka.  Verstegen sells this variety under the name ‘Muntok pepper’. Muntok is the name of the old port. It is the only variety that Verstegen buys. Why white Muntok pepper from Banka? Due to the type of soil, the climate and the processing method that Verstegen developed with the farmers, the white pepper from Banka has a unique, warm flavour.  Whereas most white pepper is just hot, Banka pepper also contains many extra flavours. Naturally, Verstegen therefore depends on enough being planted on the island, because if the farmers stopped growing pepper that would be an end to it, of course. That is why Verstegen regularly visits the island itself to maintain its contacts.

The island of Banka is also rich in tin. Due to the increasing price of metal, it is very advantageous to extract this tin from the ground. In this process, the soil is rinsed until thoroughly clean, to get the tin out.  However, all of the nutrients are also washed out of the soil. This is very bad for the island. They are choosing short-term monetary gain, but in the long term large areas of the island will be infertile. In addition to pepper, monocultures such as palm oil and rubber are popular crops in Indonesia, and therefore also on Banka. In contrast to palm oil and rubber, pepper makes a great contribution to biodiversity.  And this is what Verstegen wants to draw to people’s attention. Fortunately, the topic now seems to be entering the political agenda too.  The use of white Muntok pepper from Verstegen is therefore not only much tastier, but also sustainable.

In short, other crops and tin mining form a threat to our highly-prized Muntok White Pepper.  Verstegen aims to encourage pepper cultivation among the local population. To give an impression of what tin mining does to the landscape, Verstegen staff took some photos during their visit.  The result is a sort of lunar landscape.

 

Brassica Rapeseed oil

Since 2010, Verstegen Spices & Sauces has been selling a new, fine oil produced in the Netherlands; Brassica rapeseed oil. This pure, honest rapeseed oil originates from the wonderful bright yellow fields of the rapeseed growers in the East Netherlands. The best rapeseeds are selected for Brassica. Using their own, unique production method, only the kernel of the rapeseeds is used, resulting in a beautiful, pure oil. The good quality and the tasty flavour of rapeseed, combined with the craftsmanship of the grower, guarantee culinary enjoyment. Rapeseed is cultivated for the oil contained in the seeds (40-45%). One hectare of rapeseed yields over 1600 litres of oil. In addition to oil, this same quantity of rapeseed also produces about 2750 kilos of rapeseed straw and around 3000 kg of rapeseed cake. This is the solid residue of the rapeseed that is left behind after pressing. The residual product is rich in protein and can be processed into high-grade animal feed. 

Rapeseed growers

A number of rapeseed growers in the East Netherlands with a passion for rapeseed joined together to form the Cooperative Rapeseed Association ‘Colzaco’. Thanks to their enthusiasm for the crop and the possibilities of rapeseed, the development of cultivation and the products extracted from rapeseed has really accelerated. The association, which now has 120 members, aims to increase the yield of rapeseed and market innovative products using rapeseed, its first important success being the introduction of rapeseed oil bearing the name ‘Brassica’

Fair Trade visits

Verstegen has been purchasing nutmeg and mace from Indonesia in a Fair Trade agreement for years.  Nutmeg originates from the Molucca Islands and the best and tastiest nutmeg still comes from there. It is therefore the only quality Verstegen wants to use. Together with the Ollong family, the company Ollop PT, we aim for the best quality nutmeg and mace. Verstegen pays slightly more than the market price and in exchange for this investments are made which improve both the working conditions and the quality.  People from Verstegen visit Ambon on a regular basis, to discuss progress, to help and to share knowledge.

Nutmeg is still simply gathered in the forests on Ambon. It could not be more natural. The men go into the forests and gather the fruits. The women are employed by the company to select the best quality. As a result, a lot of people work for Verstegen and the village is provided with a good income in this way. When a delegation from Verstegen visited Ambon in June 2010, they were welcomed warmly, out of gratitude, with a wonderful meal prepared by the local women.  The delegation also received a long thank-you speech from the head of the village.

This was very gratifying, of course, but the gratitude is reciprocal, because the care with which these people handle the spices ensures fantastic quality.

What a lot of people do not know is that mace and nutmeg come from the same fruit. The seed contains the nutmeg, and this is surrounded by the husk, with the beautiful mace covering this, and finally the flesh of the fruit around this. Although there are similarities in terms of flavour, mace and nutmeg have their own very different character.

Fair Trade coffee

It is obvious that a company like Verstegen, working daily with Fair Trade, also drinks responsible coffee. A number of years we have been drinking Fair Trade coffee and since 2013 we switched to a new coffee supplier, which provides dispenser Good Origin, and this is a 100% sustainable coffee. The Douwe Egberts Foundation and UTZ stimulate entrepreneurship coffee and tea farmers. The farmers are trained which leads to a higher quality of coffee beans and to higher crop yields, which in turn creates a higher income for the farmer. The environment is also improved

Charity

For some years now, Verstegen has been sending its business relations a letter on the topic of good causes. In this letter, Verstegen states that it prefers not to receive seasonal gifts and Christmas cards. It would rather have a donation made to a good cause. Every year, Verstegen chooses a different good cause. Verstegen also asks its business relations to do the same. In the past few years, Verstegen has supported the following good causes.

2002 CliniClowns Nederland                                2008 Oerang Oetan project Sumat

2003 Nederlandse Hartstichting                            2009 Kika 
2004 Vereniging  de Zonnebloem                         2010 Parkinson Fonds             
2005 Familiehuis Daniel den Hoed                        2011 SOS Kinderdorpen         
2006 Fair Trade                                                2012 Stichting ALS     
2007 Natuurmonumenten                                    2013 Giro 555: Tyfoon Filipijnen
2006 Fair Trade

Children rights

In September 1990, the Convention on the Rights of the Child came into force. This convention is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Virtually every country in the world signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child, yet despite this there are still more than 200 million children today under the age of 15 who have to work every day to keep themselves or their family.

Verstegen does not make use of child labour. This has also been discussed with all the suppliers. We emphatically drew their attention to Article 32.1:

32.1 States Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.

Verstegen is convinced that this right, just like all other rights described in the Convention, is a fundamental right. We therefore asked our suppliers to discuss this with their suppliers so that they can assure us that no use will ever be made of child labour during the cultivation and processing of spices and other raw materials. By dealing directly with farmers at the source wherever possible, and visiting them ourselves and carrying out checks, Verstegen keeps a keen eye on this.

Sheltered workshop

In recent years, Verstegen has made frequent use of the services of various Sheltered Workshops in the immediate vicinity. Up to 2002, this was all contracted out. In 2009, a unique workshop was opened on site, which is manned by people from the three sheltered workshops around Rotterdam. A fully independently operating department, integrated into the Verstegen production process.

The people who work at the sheltered workshop at Verstegen have a physical or mental disability or are (temporarily) unable to perform their normal work due to an injury. The people at the sheltered workshop mainly perform simple operations in the production process. This results in a win-win situation. The employees have work and are involved in the product and the organisation, and Verstegen has very meticulous and motivated employees who are willing and able to do labour-intensive jobs.

A few examples of work done at the sheltered workshop:
o         At the end of the line, packing pots. And putting them on pallets.
o         Operating a number of simple production lines.
o         Wrapping semi-manufactured goods in outer packaging.
o         Performing various corrective or outer-packaging operations.
o         Manually packing products which cannot be automated.  

Food bank foundation

Food bank foundation

The Netherlands Food Banks Foundation (Stichting Voedselbanken Nederland) arose at the end of 2008 when the Stichting Voedselbank Nederland/Rotterdam (founded in 2002) and the Federatie Voedselbanken Nederland (founded in 2004) merged.  The national organisation is a virtual organisation.  Work is carried out by people from the (regional) food banks. The foundation’s mission is as follows: to avoid wasting food by making collections from businesses and distributing this free of charge to people in the Netherlands who live below the poverty line.  This is only done using unpaid volunteers. Every week, about twenty thousand families, over fifty thousand people, in the Netherlands eat from the food parcels they receive free from the food bank. In order to be eligible for a food parcel, a single person must not be left with more than € 175 per month after deducting fixed costs such as rent, gas, water, light and insurance

Verstegen helps

In its policy, Verstegen has stipulated that unmarketable stocks, for example products which are going to be dropped or products with minor faults such as a mistake on the label, will be donated to the food bank, instead of being destroyed.  This mainly involves consumer packs and sometimes also packs destined for wholesale, if these are also suitable for consumption by individual consumers. 

The main advantages of this are: 

  • Families which are dependent on the food bank can make good use of the products
  • The amount of waste is reduced