Hazelnuts are an extremely important raw material for us and the M-Industry companies. We source most of our hazelnuts from Turkey, where nearly three-fourths of the world’s hazelnuts are grown. The harvest time is short and the steep slopes along the Black Sea coast make the work extremely labour-intensive. This is why most of the approximately 350,000 hazelnut farmers need help during the harvest season. These workers usually come from migrant worker families, who do many types of seasonal work on Turkish farms and move from place to place. The social status of these people leaves much to be desired. The pay and accommodation of the harvest workers and child-minding during the harvest season must be improved.
We have therefore joined forces with other partners to elaborate a sustainability standard for hazelnuts together with UTZ. The central elements of this standard are: Compliance with international social standards, awareness-raising as well as support given to the farmers for their professional cultivation of hazelnut plantations. For example, the farmers learn how to prune the hazel shrubs properly, how to use the correct plant protection products and how to comply with the payment and accommodation guidelines for migrant workers. In 2015, we were one of the first suppliers worldwide to introduce UTZ-certified hazelnuts in our product range. Our work in this area was a significant contribution to introducing sustainable hazelnuts on the market. But our commitment is still ongoing. New farmers are continuously being integrated in the UTZ programme. They also need our support.
In addition to our commitment to implementing and developing the UTZ hazelnut standard, we also contribute to funding the Happy Hazelnut project, a regional project sponsoring partners in the supply chain. The goal of this project is to improve the living conditions of migrant workers. The project comprises a care programme for the children of migrant workers and the construction of a residential building for the entire family. As a Gold Partner of this project, we provide a yearly financial contribution towards the construction and the maintenance of this residential building. In addition, we pay a bonus for UTZ and organic-certified hazelnuts in this programme. The entire bonus goes to the migrant workers and their families.