Valrhona CEO Clémentine Alzial said the chocolate producer has been working to transform its economic and organizational model for several years. The company earned its B Corporation certification after undergoing a three-year process.
"The current crisis forces us to rethink our business models, way of life and the world of tomorrow,” Alzial said. “Even if recent months have shown us that we are capable of changing very quickly, the biggest transformation is still to come. Our organizations must no longer try to be the best in the world, but must also be the best for the world."
Launched in the United States in 2006, the B Corp community brings together companies that meet demanding standards in terms of social and environmental impact. Valrhona has joined the ranks of Patagonia, Innocent and The Body Shop, among others.
B Corporation certification measures company performance in five areas: governance, workers, customers, community and environment. To qualify, a company must take into account all of these dimensions and not simply shareholder value. Information is scored on a 200-point scale, with a minimum of 80 points required to receive the certification.
With 88.3 points, Valrhona is now the largest chocolate maker for professionals in the world to earn the B Corporation certification. The average score for participating companies is 50.9 points.
Of the 80,000 organizations worldwide that have undertaken the evaluation, only 3,200 have received the certification, representing 130 industries and 60 countries.
As part of the B Corporation certification framework, Valrhona has changed its articles of incorporation, adding that the company will take into account the impact of its decisions on the planet and stakeholders, such as employees, clients and suppliers. The objective is to place social and environmental requirements at the same level as its profits.
The following tangible actions have made it possible for Valrhona to obtain the certification:
• Long-term partnerships between Valrhona and its cacao partners: Valrhona guarantees 100 percent traceability of cacao to each of its 18,208 producers, implementation of a “living income” approach to ensure they receive a fair compensation despite price fluctuation, and community support projects, including building schools and providing access to clean water, in order to improve living conditions for cacao producers and people in the surrounding villages.
• A lower environmental footprint for the company: Since 2013, Valrhona has reduced the carbon emissions of the production facility in Tain l’Hermitage by 57 percent.
• Equal gender representation and well-being at work: 55 percent of Valrhona employees are women, including the managing director, and the company has been a “Great Place to Work” since 2012.
• Company mission: Actions to create a just and sustainable cacao sector and practices to inspire more responsible gastronomy are at the core of Valrhona’s purpose. Valrhona has been striving for decades to promote fairness, environmental responsibility and ethical business practices in chocolate production and the food industry as a whole.
To keep their certifications, B Corp businesses must build on their progress as their status is re-evaluated every three years. Each time, they must obtain at least 80 points among requirements that are becoming increasingly strict. To make its business model more resilient, Valrhona has defined its highest priority objectives for the future:
• Prepare for the consequences of climate change: The company’s goal is to make its production facility in Tain l’Hermitage carbon neutral in 2020 and to achieve carbon neutrality for its entire value chain, from plantation to the plate, by 2025.
• Minimize or eliminate packaging: Valrhona has reduced the weight of its primary packaging by 30 percent, but has not yet found a functional, recyclable material that can guarantee an excellent level of chocolate preservation and quality. Research is ongoing and active with suppliers. In the coming months, the company will conduct testing in France to deliver chocolate couvertures to clients using washable and reusable trays.
• Promote agroforestry: Agroforestry is a cacao cultivation method that respects soil by mixing different tree species and making it possible for producers to diversify their revenues. Valrhona’s ambition is to help 100 percent of its 18,208 producers towards agroforestry practices between now and 2025.
• Help the sector adopt responsible practices: For its clients, Valrhona is making every effort to promote a food industry that is more responsible, in particular by sharing best practices, including food waste reduction, sourcing quality, seasonal and sustainable ingredients and traceability.
• Improve the diversity policy. Diversity in voices, cultures and backgrounds is a success factor for thriving in a world that is ever more uncertain and changing. Valrhona is committed to strengthening its diversity policy as part of hiring and career development.