Rice is the main staple for 3.5 billion people, delivering 20% of their daily calorie intake. Consumption continues to grow in Asia, and though there are signs of decline in some higher income countries, it remains the fastest growing food staple in Africa and Latin America.
Producing, on average, 480 million metric tonnes (MMT) per year, the rice industry is fragmented and complex. Globally, more than 2 million smallholders work 160 million hectares of land, but production yields are stalling and environmental concerns are growing.
With so many producers and a vast global market, the challenge facing the industry is how to improve sustainability both in environmental and business terms.
Setting a new standard for sustainable rice
The Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP), a multi-stakeholder alliance, was established in 2011 to promote efficient use of resources, improve climate change resilience in rice production, contribute to food security and improve smallholder incomes.
From its earliest days, the SRP has pursued voluntary market transformation initiatives by developing and implementing guidelines, performance indicators and more recently the Standard on Sustainable Rice Cultivation v1.0 in 2015.
According to Geert Eenhoorn, Project Manager Rice, at UTZ: “The new Standard on Sustainable Rice Cultivation is not merely about adding a certification mark to the end-product, it is about making a difference to farming, farmers and the environment around the globe. It addresses the challenges faced by the full range of businesses, from smallholders to larger rice producers, through 12 performance indicators that can be scaled to suit. In a departure from the traditional pass/fail standard, the inclusion of these indicators
helps to drive a culture of continuous improvement.”
A multi-layer assurance system, the new standard provides not only support to smallholders and rice producers, but also assurance for the benefit of the wider industry and local authorities.
Big brands lend support
According to UTZ many big brands share an enthusiasm for sustainable rice. For example, Mars Food, owner of the largest rice brand, UNCLE BEN’S® rice, has committed to sustainably source 100% of its rice by 2020.
Transparency-One, a partner of SGS, supports global supply chains by helping companies ensure their products are safe and conform to product safety rules and regulations. It enables companies to discover, analyse and monitor all suppliers, components and facilities in their entire supply chain, using real time supply chain data.
SGS has recently announced that it is working with Mars Food, Transparency-One and Blippar to revolutionize Mars Food’s end-to-end supply chain transparency, exploring new ways to map its supply chains end-to-end and to connect customers with farmers.
SGS rice services
With testing laboratories across the world’s rice producing countries, we deliver the widest range of services to ensure the quality and safety of your rice crops. From rice authentication and contamination, to GMO determination and pesticide residue analysis, we have the capabilities to deliver accurate analyses in the quickest turnaround times.
Our stock monitoring and fumigation services minimize the risk of damage and loss, also ensuring that issues can be addressed promptly.
Gain the confidence you need to access new markets and establish new business with our audit and certification services.
Vice-President SGS Transparency-One
SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 90,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 2,000 offices and laboratories around the world.