Looking at the sustainable supply chains behind some classic Valentine’s Day favorites

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Chocolates, wine, flowers, jewelry? What will you buy for the special person in your life this Valentine’s Day? Not planning to buy anything at all? You might want to seriously rethink that decision before you show up empty-handed. Over the years, Valentine’s Day has become big business. As you know, Valentine's Day is an annual holiday, celebrated on February 14. It originated as a Western Christian liturgical feast day honoring one or more early saints named Valentinus. Today, Valentine’s Day is recognized as a significant cultural and commercial celebration in many regions around the world. Commercial celebration is right. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are poised to spend more than $18 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts in 2017. That comes to about $137.57 per person. I’d really love a $137.57 box of chocolates. Heck, let’s round it up to $140 and skip the sentimental greeting card.

Consumers’ changing expectations

In a recent infographic, How to get your supply chain ready for the future, we highlighted three factors driving the need for supply chain change. One of those factors is sustainability and accountability. This means, in addition to growth and profitability goals, companies must pursue sustainable development, including environment protection, social justice and equity, and economic development. It’s what today’s consumers expect. In a February 2017 article, SCM World Chief Content Officer Kevin O’Marah underscored the importance of meeting consumers’ expectations, saying, “Shoppers believe their buying decisions make a difference and are increasingly willing to drop brands who fail to deliver on sustainability and climate change promises.” So, if we look at some of the sustainable supply chains behind a few Valentine’s Day favorites, what are these companies doing to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable supply chain management and development? I did some digging and found out some interesting things.

Say “yes” to chocolatey goodness

Hershey’s business practices affect everyone in its supply chain, from cocoa farmers and their communities to employees, shareholders and customers. When Hershey’s says an ingredient is sustainably sourced, it is farmed in a responsible manner so the land, people and community that produced it can continue to thrive. Hershey Company is also a founding member of CocoaAction, which helps build educational and community resources, and improve labor practices in West Africa, where improving cocoa sustainability is critical.

Raise a glass to land conservation

E&J Gallo Winery’s commitment to the environment began in the 1930s when co-founders Ernest and Julio Gallo introduced an innovative approach to land conservation in the North Coast known as the “50/50 Give Back” plan. For every acre of land planted in a vineyard, one acre of property was set aside for wildlife habitat — a practice that continues today. I’ll toast to that!

Show the love with fair trade flowers

Although not a manufacturer or procurer of fresh cut flowers, Green America has a mission when it comes to the planet: “harness economic power — the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace — to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.”  In addition to fair wages and labor practices, Green America’s Fair Trade flower certification ensures that farms comply with rigorous environmental standards governing the use of pesticides, conservation of water, treatment of wastewater, protection of ecosystems and more.

Beware of diamonds in the rough

In 2002, the UN adopted the Kimberley Process — a joint governments, industry and civil society to stem the flow of conflict diamonds (rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments). How do you ensure you’re buying a conflict-free diamond when that special moment comes? One article I read recommends asking to see the diamond’s System of Warranties statement. It’s a notice on all invoices for the sale of rough diamonds, polished diamonds and jewelry containing diamonds stating the diamonds in question have been purchased from legitimate sources and that the seller guarantees they are conflict free.

Wrapping it all up

Consumers’ growing expectations for companies to do the right thing, are making organizations rethink the supply chain. Greater transparency, corporate social responsibility, and environmental sustainability aren’t just nice-to-haves anymore; rather, they’re imperatives for capturing the hearts and wallets of consumers. Do you have any stories to share about exemplary supply chains? We’d love to hear from you.

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