We have made it a practice to personally validate our suppliers and meet the people who grow and manufacture Ceres products. We inspect every element of the supply chain from the farms where the ingredients are grown, the warehouses, packing/processing facilities … through to the port and how the freight agent selects the shipping container. We are determined to ensure that only high quality certified organic ingredients and organic manufacturing processes are used in our products.
SOURCING FROM CHINA
Here’s some words from our Managing Director, Noel Josephson, on sourcing from China:
We often get queries from customers asking why we source some of our organic ingredients out of China. This is understandable given the reputation China has gained for being heavily polluted, industrialised, and overcrowded, with some unenforced and low standard foods, and being questionable where corruption is concerned.
However, China is evolving – partly because it has to – and these issues are being addressed with positive changes happening. What people seem to overlook is the fact that China is the third biggest country geographically after Canada and Russia, and while parts of China, particularly in some main centres and areas of the south coast, certainly do fit the stereotypes, this is not true for the whole country. In the north towards the North Korean border, where we source our ingredients, it is a completely different story altogether. Here there is an entrenched food culture, steeped in tradition, and a strong connection to the land.
We started dealing with growers and suppliers out of northern China over 15 years ago, sourcing a range of organic berries, nuts, seeds and pulses from the region. I have visited the area and the growers several times over the years and discovered just why these crops produce such high quality yields. One area in particular, Liaoning, towards the North Korean border, has the most amazing soil I’ve ever come across – rich, deep, black. The landscape is green and lush and there is a strong farming community there. You can really feel how close to the earth the people are.
When I first visited this place, I was informed that the area has been protected since the Communist Party came into power in 1949. The Party wanted a backup drinking water supply for Beijing, so no chemicals were allowed to enter the water, which meant the farmers could not use chemicals on the land. As a result of this, the farmers had to adapt their practices. They began using farming methods that we in the West were calling organic, and they figured these methods out by themselves. For example, they needed to eliminate a caterpillar pest, so they studied the life cycle of it and found a predator insect, then bred it and hatched it when the caterpillar was due to hatch, to wipe it out before it could eat the crops. In some of their organic farming methods, these farmers were actually ahead of the West. This is just one example of many growers I have visited since we started sourcing organics out of China.
Another reason that people seem to be concerned about organic ingredients coming out of China is because they worry that the organic certification cannot be trusted. When it comes to Ceres Organics’ products out of China, these fears are unfounded. We are a BioGro certified company, and this means that all of our products and documentation go through rigorous checks by our own quality/technical team and BioGro before we can gain certification on a product that we sell. BioGro requires either of the following international certifications: EU (European), USDA (United States) or JAS (Japanese), before it will certify anything out of China. Domestic Chinese certifications are not accepted. The beauty of organics is that it’s the first system in the world where you can trace the food from the farm to the plate, and BioGro has stringent processes for ensuring a foreign certification is authentic before it will recertify with a BioGro certification.
Of course just because our products are truly organic wherever they come from in the world, this does not mean that there aren’t fake “organic” products out there on the market. The key to ensuring an organic product is authentic is to buy from a trusted brand, with a trusted certification that ensures an unbroken chain of certification from farmer to retailer. Brand trust is more important than ever in this day and age, and we have spent over 30 years building trust and integrity in our brand. Not all traders go to the same lengths as Ceres Organics to ensure the quality of the organic certification like we do with BioGro. We take the trust we have earned very seriously, and we go to great lengths to ensure that our products are of the highest quality with credible certifications. China is no exception to this, so anyone buying our products can rest assured that if they are eating ingredients from China, they are eating pure food from a part of China where the growers honour organics and have a deep connection to the land.