The theme of the meeting was “Paths to Sustainability”

The INC attended the 36th European Trade Meeting, organized by the Waren-Verein der Hamburger Börse e.V., on November 17, 2023, in Hamburg, Germany. The meeting, which focused on the theme of “Paths to Sustainability,” brought together around 100 participants representing companies and organizations in the nut and dried fruit sector across 13 different countries. The INC was represented by Mr. Michael Waring, INC Chairman, Mr. Pino Calcagni, Chairman of the INC Sustainability, Scientific and Government Affairs Committee, Mrs. Goretti Guasch, INC Executive Director, and Ms. Irene Gironès, Statistics and Technical Projects Manager.

The first speaker, Prof. Dr. René Schimdpeter of the Institute of Sustainable Business at Bern University of Applied Sciences, argued that sustainability and profitability go hand in hand and that sustainability is poised to become the biggest business opportunity of the millennium.

The next speaker was Claire Bury, Deputy Director-General of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety, who gave an update on regulations pertaining to sustainable food systems and sustainability labeling. She discussed legislative proposals on pesticide use and sustainability labeling that are currently working their way through the EU pipeline.

Felix Ahlers, CEO of FRoSTA Tiefkühlkost GmbH, discussed sustainability labeling from a manufacturer’s perspective. He argued that sustainability labels should be multidimensional, scientifically based, easy to implement, mandatory, adaptable for primary data, and comparable and that governments should provide a standardized database for this purpose.

Dr. Alexander David, Director of Sustainability International CSR at Lidl Stiftung & Co KG, discussed sustainability labeling from a retailer’s perspective. The main challenges he identified are credibility, comparability, customer education about labeling, and adopting a simple and easy-to-understand meta score.

Nepomuk Willkomm, Sustainability Manager at Nutwork Handelsgesellschaft mbH, gave a keynote speech describing key practices adopted by the company since making sustainability a core element of its business model. Examples include adopting a code of conduct detailing sustainability expectations towards suppliers, using energy-efficient air compressors to drastically reduce natural gas consumption and switching to green electricity for the entire group of companies.

Salma Seetaroo, CEO of Cashew Coast, gave the second keynote speech, in which she argued that sustainability initiatives can only be successful with sector-wide transformation. Noting that we are now “in the age of irreversibility,” she argued that sustainability is no longer a choice and called on buyers to join the movement, accepting short-term cost burdens in exchange for longer-term cost savings.

The meeting ended with a panel discussion titled “Every Journey Begins with a First Step,” featuring Prof. Dr. René Schmidpeter, Felix Ahlers, Nepomuk Willkomm, Salma Seetaroo, and FRUCOM Secretary General, Anna Boulova.

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