When we talk about sustainable supply chains and the need for transparency in the entire production process of a product, oftentimes it’s argued that such detailed information is impossible to provide because of the complexity of our global food system. Well, think again – a French organic yoghurt company called “Les 2 Vaches” (“The 2 Cows”) just launched a website that brings corporate transparency to the next level.
“We do everything we can to trace our ingredients back to their sources. We won’t tell you that we are perfect, but we will tell you what we are doing!”
According to this analysis in Sustainable Brands, 89% of French consumers “state it is essential for them to better understand what are their products are made of, and 60 percent find that there is insufficient information.“
Thus, the yoghurt company decided it was time to step up their game. On their website, you can choose the yoghurt you prefer (they all have dreamy names like “very wild blueberry” or “delicate raspberry”) and watch as you zoom in on a map that shows you all the ingredients in the product and their origin.
In the example above, for instance, you can tell that their organic cane sugar came from a plant in Sao Paulo, Brazil, whereas the rest of their ingredients are from Europe.
Then, it explains how and why they select their suppliers (for instance that the sugar growers use innovative techniques that don’t burn the cane stalks but rather use them as land cover), and really puts a face onto your product.
I am so impressed with the amount of thought and detail put into their site, and it is fascinating alone to see the intricacies of global food production visualized. However, the Sustainable Brands article also made a good point:
This approach is courageous for the brand. Indeed, it gives a little dizzy at the number of ingredients in each pot of yogurt and the kilometers each travels, though this is relatively minor compared with conventional food products.
Also, explaining that you add a non-organic seaweed extract, sourced from the other side of the world, to thicken the preparation of the custard is a bold revelation to make to sustainability-conscious consumers.
Is there then such a thing as providing “too much” information? I would argue against it; sustainability-conscious consumers should understand that simply because this company chooses to show its cards doesn’t mean that the others aren’t behaving in exactly the same, or even less sustainable ways. Furthermore, I like brands being upfront about their challenges and future strategies, which in this case include ensuring that 100 percent of its organic milk comes from Normandy (right now it’s sourced France-wide, though 80% is of Normandy origin), to buy milk powder from a factory closer to Normandy (currently in Germany), and to publish data about packaging sources, etc.
Clearly, there are always ways to grow, but engaging in an upfront and honest conversation with consumers in my view is the best way to get the demand-side support to make these changes a reality. And therefore, I salute “Les 2 Vaches” for their audacity!
The website is in French, but I tested google translating it to English and it actually does a pretty fine job. Just hop on over and explore virtually the long way until a little pot of yoghurt arrives in your (or a random French person’s) fridge!
Have you heard of other companies providing such detailed sourcing information? Would you like more companies to do so?