AMSTERDAMConfectionery product formulators could soon see improvements in hazelnut ingredients as UTZ Certified launches a 3-year initiative in Turkey that aims to bring sound sustainability standards to hazelnut farming.
A pilot project will be implemented across three hazelnut producing regions in the country: Trabzon and Giresun in the Northeast, and Duzce in the Northwest, where about 175 farmers are expected to take part. UTZ members such as Migros/Delica AG, Natra and REWE Group are actively collaborating in this initiative.
The UTZ hazelnut project follows a similar cocoa initiative that is working to ensure professional practices in cocoa production, and the program continues to grow since its start in 2009. The Hershey Company recently began a similar sustainability initiative to source 100% certified cocoa by 2020, and Lindt & Sprüngli also extended its cocoa farming program in Ghana to improve agricultural, social and environmental farming practices.
UTZ is the first certification scheme to address the three pillars of sustainability in hazelnut farming: people, profit and planet. During this pilot project, UTZ Certified will apply a set of requirements covering safe and healthy working conditions, good agricultural practices and protection of the environment to bring the hazelnuts sector to sustainable production.
Turkey accounts for more than70% of hazelnut production worldwide, with the majority imported to European countries and used in the confectionery industry. The latter is aware of the need for greater sustainability measures in the sector, which will lead to better products for consumers.
“UTZ is keen to take up the challenge and expects to have its first certified hazelnut production in the market by the beginning of 2016," said Han De Groot, executive director at UTZ Certified. “UTZ has proved that with a committed coalition of partners from trade, food industry, retail and NGOs, it is possible to invest in a credible sustainability program for cocoa, coffee and tea. Now is the time to apply our experience in the hazelnuts sector."
The requirements for sustainable hazelnut farming were developed in close consultation with farmers, industry, governmental institutions, NGOs and other stakeholders. They have been compiled into a draft hazelnut module, which is designed to sit alongside the UTZ Certified core code of conduct. The module was open for public consultation via the UTZ website from March 1 to April 14, 2014, and a second round of consultation will follow in 2015.