Bastien Sachet, how Nestlè and Ferrero are decommodifying their supply chains

An interview with Bastien Sachet, CEO of The Earthworm Foundation. A dive deep into the importance of managing forests and soils. The key is a humble approach for large brands and commodity buyers as they need a more holistic view to shift from extractive to regenerative.

What is the role of the largest commodity buyers and brands like Nestlè and Ferrero in the world in the regenerative transitions? At the Earthwork Foundation they tackle the tension between top down and bottom up approach, being very humble and how large brands need a holistic view of quality (which includes their full supply chain, not just their final branded product).

Koen and Bastien also discuss why you need to work on small and very deep regenerative projects that seem to be impossible to scale.

LISTEN TO THE CONVERSATION ON:

In this episode, Koen van Seijen speaks with the CEO of The Earthworm Foundation, Bastien Sachet. They discuss the work of The Earthworm Foundation and how they started.

A Change in the Supply Chains

The Earthworm Foundation is a non-profit organization that focuses on the relationship between people and nature. It works with some of the largest agricultural commodity players in the world. They aim to create more life in their value chain through key ecosystems, forests and soils. 

“Personally, I’m an agronomist, and I’ve grown up in the countryside. I ended up at some stage after various steps, having this vision in Argentina on a soil field where I see the soil going up in dust, and GMO crops and cans of roundup on the side, and I’m thinking, ‘That’s not what I want to do, we can change that.’” – Bastien Sachet

Deforestation through Agricultural Commodities

In essence, the Foundation has been leveraging the power of businesses to change the origin of their supply chains. In the past, the focus was on the main supplies like timber and wood to make garden furniture. Consequently, these productions lead to deforestation, especially in Asia. 

“We proved then we learned how to use the purchase and the procurement of companies in the downstream to leverage change in the upstream. We saw it was possible.” – Bastien Sachet

Taking on a Holistic View on Quality

Bastien and his team started tackling deforestation through agricultural commodities which led them to the farmers and smallholders who managed the land. Above all, the way these people manage their land makes a huge impact on the forest and you will get the sense of where everything comes from. In this holistic approach, they witnessed in some way how workers are being exploited.

Convincing Large Commodity Buyers

The goal for a change can start from understanding the source, from the forests, soils, and the people that manage them. Starting from these are two aspects you can get large brands and large community buyers to care and do something in regards to their supply chain. Bastien explains in the episode:

“Ask yourself a question, ‘How do I relate to people in nature? Where does it come from? Has it been made?’ Everyone can ask all these simple questions. If you start asking those questions, then you open the opportunity to change.” – Bastien Sachet

Gathering Support 

Bastien related his approach in gathering support from large brands to somewhat similar to visiting a doctor. First, you have to make an appointment and then start the healing process from there. Aside from the plan that Bastien intend to do, there is a review, or a diagnosis where they adapt together with the client to find a solution together. 

“So, the company comes and says, ‘Look, I want to change.’ Either it’s because of an NGO campaign or consumer pressure or the CEOs decision or just some individuals within the company thinking ‘Hey, why don’t we try something different?’ So, we sit down, we listen, and we understand what is the magnitude of their problem, how deeply they want to change.” – Bastien Sachet

Aside from that, one of the best ways to convince the senior management of a large company is to let them experience the field, let them feel the soil, and convince them to meet and talk to people who manage the land. Reconnecting with where their supplies come from is just as important as the meetings and calls they work on in the office.

To hear more about Bastien Sachet, CEO of The Earthworm Foundation, and understand the role of large brands in regenerative transitions, download and listen to this episode!

Guest Bio:

Bastien is the CEO of the Earthworm Foundation since January 2016, electing during his 10th anniversary of presence at the Earthworm Foundation. He started as a team leader before becoming a director in 2011 and then CEO five years later. His background and experience in business and agriculture are closely linked to what the Earthworm Foundation does in both business and nature. Bastien helped coordinate the oil palm strategy of the Earthworm Foundation, by leading the teams from France, Switzerland and Africa and by launching the Rurality program, the goal of which is to empower farmers. Before joining the Earthworm Foundation, Bastien worked for several years in Brazil, Australia, England and Argentina, where he led product and sales teams in logistics and food for Hamburg-South and the Roullier Group respectively.

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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

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