Halle, Belgium, 2016-May-03 — /EPR Retail News/ — Colruyt Group will be supporting vegetable farmer De Lochting from Roeselare in the continuing transition from conventional farming to organic farming. From the second week of April onward, the Colruyt and OKay stores will be selling several “transition vegetables”, which will only be eligible for the official organic label in two years. This purchase guarantee will help De Lochting to bridge the financially difficult transition period. The initiative is part of Colruyt Group’s strategy to collaborate with as many local manufacturers as possible on a production chain that is as sustainable as possible. That way, the group is ensured of a quality Belgian supply of organic vegetables to meet the growing need. Colruyt Group is also joining forces with De Lochting because it is a sheltered workshop and affords opportunities to people who are unfit for regular employment.
From now on, Colruyt Group will purchase several “transition vegetables” from De Lochting, including kohlrabi, leaf parsley, and white tip radish. In September, we will have red beets and from October onwards there will be pumpkin and winter purslane. The products will be on the shelves carrying the name Boni Selection Bio. They will be fully available at Colruyt stores and partially available at OKay stores. A sticker on the package will explain to the customers that these are transition vegetables rather than conventionally farmed vegetables or certified organic vegetables. Bio-Planet, Colruyt Group’s organic supermarket, also offers transition products, when there is not enough supply of 100 % biological produce to meet their clients’ demand.
Transition products: from fallow to organic
Colruyt Group wants to support De Lochting in the continuing transition from conventional to organic farming. This transition period will last at least two years for annual crops and three years for perennial crops. The farmer will lose revenue in this period.
Land that was used for conventional farming needs to lie fallow for a year, or be used to grow grains or legumes. After that, the farmer can begin to farm in line with organic principles, and his harvest will be given the label ‘in transition’. Only after two or three years, if all requirements for the organic certifications have been met, may the products be sold as organic.
Spontaneous partnership with a social mission
The partnership between Colruyt Group and De Lochting grew spontaneously, because the farmer was already supplying a large part of its harvest to Bio-Planet. The Colruyt Group organic supermarket, as well as the Colruyt and OKay stores are seeking to purchase more, to answer the customer’s growing demand for organic products.
Therefore, De Lochting wants to expand its acreage in farmland for organic farming. “With this partnership, we want to help make farming more sustainable. We think it’s also great that with this, we support an organisation with a social mission which gives people meaningful work. This collaboration perfectly matches our company mission to create sustainable added value, not just economically, but also ecologically and socially,” says Rony Neufkens, department head vegetable and fruit purchasing at Colruyt Group.
Dirk Lammertyn, director at De Lochting, adds: “This collaboration with Colruyt Group is giving De Lochting extra opportunities in several areas. The expansion ensures extra employment, but also different types of work. The accompanying packing orders are challenging and affords opportunities to better prepare employees for a future job at a regular food manufacturing company. This way, the meaning of socially responsible entrepreneurship at Colruyt Group (people, planet, profit) is beautifully connected to our desire to be ‘a company that cares about people and nature.”
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