In today’s global economy, all companies can have issues in their supply chains. Looking at the production of cashew we see a complex network of millions of smallholder farmers in Africa, local traders who buy and sell, processing in Asia and shipping to countries all over the world. This raises many complex questions about what steps companies should take to trade ethically, and how to make a positive difference to workers’ lives. We talked to Intersnack, a leading manufacturer of savoury snacks in Europe and a participant of the SNI, about the importance of improving their ethical trade performance over time.

Intersnack Group is a privately-owned company with Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Teamwork at the core. Intersnack always aims to act responsibly in everything that they do, be it through quality, safety or sustainability efforts. This has helped to become one of the leading manufacturers of savoury snacks in Europe, with 37 production plants and additional offices and warehouse locations in 20 countries across Europe. The company also operates five processing plants for raw cashew nuts in Vietnam and India.

Ethical Trade Initiative Base Code

Although Africa is a large producer of cashew, most processing takes place in parts of Asia. As a result of the higher processing productivity in Vietnam and India, most cashews from Africa are shipped to these countries. Bas van de Brink, Sustainability Manager: “In all factories that are part of Intersnack Group, we use the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI) Base Code as primary reference for social compliance. The ETI Base Code is an internationally recognised code of labour practice lead by the Ethical Trade Initiative. It governs Intersnack’s conduct in terms of labour conditions and human rights issues.

Cashew processing is highly labour-intensive and consists of four main steps – steaming, shelling, peeling and grading – that are carried out before the nuts can be packaged and shipped to Europe for roasting. Often, these steps do not take place in sequential order within one facility, but are scattered across a vast network of smaller workshops.  As stated in the recent investigations done by ETI Norway, this outsourcing of the production to sub-contractors causes lack of transparency and comes with increased exposure to social compliance risk , food safety and product quality.

Full compliance and control of all cashew-processing steps

In order to counter these risks, Intersnack Cashew Company (ICC) operates according to the ‘single roof processing’ concept, meaning that all steps of cashew processing (shelling – cutting – peeling – packing) are carried out under one roof. The move to ‘single roof processing’ vastly improved transparency within Intersnack’s cashew supply chain. It supports the company to better ensure food safety and guarantee that employees’ health and welfare are protected in the workplace. In short, it provides full compliance and control of all cashew-processing steps.

Bas van den Brink: “Sustainability is a continuous journey and needs full involvement and awareness of all employees. In terms of improving employees’ working conditions, Intersnack Cashew Company (ICC) has gone  beyond the standard practice and legal requirements in Vietnam, such as:

  • ICC provides 24/7 personal accident insurance for all employees and health insurance to its permanent employees and increased its employees’ average wages above the government-mandated minimum.
  • ICC complies with international child labour and voluntary employment standards in Vietnam, and employees enjoy additional training provided by the company.
  • All three factories have completed standard assessments and have a fully implemented high-care concept based on the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety and the International Featured Standard”.

Sustainable Nut Initiative

The Sustainable Nut Initiative (SNI) is a pre-competitive, collaboration platform for the nut sector. SNI brings all actors of the international nut supply chain together. The nut sector is characterized by complex supply chains with continuous changing market dynamics and limited transparency. Participants of SNI are collaborating to drive positive change towards sustainable production and transparency along the entire chain. A common agenda has been developed, addressing current and future sustainability issues at sector level, taking into account the sustainability challenges of the different nut categories. SNI develops strategies and tools to address industry bottlenecks, share and act on lessons learned, bundle resources and scale up impact.

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