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Sourcing cane sugar

Cane sugar makes up less than 5 per cent of our raw materials. We import raw cane sugar for refining, organic cane sugar and some speciality types of sugar based on cane. All our cane sugar is sourced through a network of external suppliers. Our ambition is to make sure that all the cane sugar we use is grown and supplied using the same high sustainability standards we expect from beet sugar.

Sustainability challenges

Most of the cane sugar we source on the global market is grown in South America and Africa. In these continents, labour and human rights abuses in the agricultural industries are more common than they are in the EU. Combined with the complexity of the supply chain and the large distances involved, this makes ensuring high sustainability standards in cane sugar production much more challenging than for sugar beet.

With all the types of cane sugar we source, our approach to sustainability begins with identifying the specific challenges involved. Using this knowledge, we set out requirements and expectations for our suppliers based on our Supplier Code of Conduct. We then carry out audits to make sure these requirements are being upheld.

Raw cane sugar imports

More than 90 % of the cane sugar we import is raw cane, which we refine to produce white sugar. The raw cane sugar we purchase for bulk delivery is exported from large shipping terminals that mix supplies from a number of sugar mills. This means that the sugar is not traceable to individual mills.

In this case we audit a random selection of the sugar mills we have been buying from, as well as the relevant shipping terminal. We only purchase cane sugar if we are allowed to audit the supplying sugar mills. As a general rule, we audit suppliers from a new region where we intend to do recurring business. Based on the audit findings we engage with the supplier to make sure that deliveries are living up to our requirements.

Imports for direct consumption

Less than10 % of the cane sugar we import is for direct consumption. For this type of sugar, which is delivered in bags that can be traced back to mills, we audit both the supplying sugar mill and the farms where the sugar cane is grown.

Audit scope

Our supplier audits cover food safety and quality, social responsibility, health and safety and the environment. In cases of noncompliance, we either stop further deliveries or demand improvements, depending on the extent to which our requirements are not being met. Where we demand that a supplier takes remedial action, we follow up to ensure the improvements have been carried out. In case of failure of a supplier to adjust to these demands, a cease of collaboration with them in the future is possible.

Impact

 

Over the last three years, we have audited thirteen sugar cane mills in South America and Africa, a joint venture partner in Asia, and six harbour terminals. The auditing outcome has been positive in all cases, allowing us to continue with the same supplying partners, however in cases where some non-compliance is monitored, improvements have been required.