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Interview with Kevin Ogorzalek of the Barry Callebaut Group

23rd November 2021

“We are fostering industry wide regenerative farming to revitalise rural communities and farming ecosystems. We believe we can achieve this in collaboration with our supply chain partners and peers.”

SAI Platform member, Barry Callebaut Group, is a leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products. Headquartered in Zurich, the Group runs more than 60 production facilities worldwide serving the entire food industry. The Barry Callebaut Group is committed to sourcing only sustainable ingredients by 2025 to help ensure future supplies of cocoa and improve farmer livelihoods.

SAI Platform met with Kevin Ogorzalek, Senior Manager of Sustainable Sourcing at Barry Callebaut Group following the pre-release of its Regenerative Agriculture Framework, to discuss why there is a need for industry alignment on regenerative agriculture and how this will assist the Barry Callebaut Group in achieving its sustainability targets.

What is SAI Platform’s Regenerative Agriculture programme and how did it start?

SAI Platform’s Regenerative Agriculture programme is an industry aligned approach to understanding and verifying on-farm regenerative agriculture practices and improvements. It aims to complement the hard work that members are already undertaking with the Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) in a manner that will demonstrate regenerative outcomes in our supply chains. It focuses on engaging farmers and supporting them as they increase on-farm regenerative capacity to positively impact global issues related to agriculture, carbon and nature.

The project developed from conversations with other SAI Platform members, customers, and suppliers. The Barry Callebaut Group and other founding members recognised the need to create industry alignment on the principles, metrics and outcomes of regenerative agriculture and to seek direction from leading thinkers to ensure that regenerative agriculture means something and can deliver on its promise without becoming a weak term that is a Rorschach test for anyone in agriculture. It’s about rebuilding the environmental and economic resilience of the agriculture landscape.

Why does Barry Callebaut want this so much?

It’s not about Barry Callebaut wanting something in particular, we are fostering industry wide regenerative farming to revitalise rural communities and farming ecosystems. We believe we can achieve this in collaboration with our supply chain partners and peers. An industry aligned approach and common language to aggregate progress will help orient farming to become a solution in addressing the big issues such as climate change and biodiversity restoration.

To this end, SAI Platform’s Regenerative Agriculture programme fully aligns with Barry Callebaut’s Forever Chocolate programme which aims to support Thriving Nature by achieving carbon and forest positive outcomes in our supply chains. We are fully committed to sourcing only sustainable ingredients by 2025. As members of SAI Platform and One Planet Business for Biodiversity (OP2B), we see regenerative agriculture as the pathway to achieving our sustainability goals through the regeneration of soil, biodiversity, farmer economics, as well as carbon and nitrogen cycles.

Why is SAI Platform the right fit for developing a Regenerative Agriculture programme for the global food and drink industry?

SAI Platform has convening power and a demonstrated ability in enabling food and drink businesses to assess, improve, and verify on-farm sustainability in their supply chains. With that, it is well positioned to coordinate work across supply chains and guide the adoption of practices that lead to regenerative outcomes.

SAI Platform has facilitated a unique space for pre-competitive, creative industry collaboration for almost 20 years. The successful implementation of tools such as the Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) and the Sustainable Dairy Partnership (SDP) and the proactive, can-do spirit among members makes SAI Platform the right fit for developing a regenerative agriculture programme.

Furthermore, SAI Platform is well positioned to engage key industry players to ensure a common approach and industry alignment on the implementation and scalability of regenerative agriculture. It is hugely important to prioritise measurable progress on the ground without being too bogged down in discussing the perfect definitions.

How do you see SAI Platform’s Regenerative Agriculture programme growing to industry scale over the coming years?

The industry will use this programme to establish stronger personal relationships with farmer partners as well as the land in a manner that will fundamentally change how we perceive our environment. It can help de-commodify what we buy and our relationships through a new appreciation of the complexity of agriculture ecosystems and communities. When we start to critically think about regenerating something, we understand that business as usual is not going to achieve our stated goals. 

Once we recognise this complexity, we can scale through trust-based relationships that deliver outcomes based on the unique context of every farm. It is this flexible approach which will help to secure the buy-in required from farmers to enable further scalability of regenerative agriculture solutions.

For more information about SAI Platform’s Regenerative Agriculture programme and how to get involved, please contact Nick Betts