Should businesses have more purpose than just returning profit to shareholders? B Corp-certified brands certainly think so. Having just become one itself, Bennetto founder Lucy Bennetto explains why and how she got her business to the status of a B Corp.
The ‘S’ word has been thrashed about lately, so we try not to use it. Instead, we like to call how we do our business ‘thoughtful’. And this is the very core of our being here at Bennetto Natural Foods. In every delicious chocolate bar we create, we embody the principles of transparency, thoughtfulness, and quality. I’m so proud to announce that in July 2023, we finally became a certified B Corp business. It was the icing on the cake of all our hard work to date.
It’s a big deal! Getting that coveted B badge was not a walk in the park. Or, as Jamie Oliver described it, “They are properly in your laundry drawer, getting into your (socks), having a good look.” It is deliberately and intentionally challenging – if it weren’t, it would be meaningless. So, yes, to get certified, I spent many hours working late into the night, wrangling with documentation, collating evidence, and putting our house in B Corp order.
Getting the B badge shows we are committed to being a brand that makes good chocolate and is ‘good for the world’. It’s about businesses that, yes, want to make profits but also want to do good in the world as we believe its businesses are the ones that can have the most significant impact and reach the most people, but to do it in a good way it just takes a bit more thought.
The process is onerous at times. But is it worth it? One thousand per cent. As a business owner, it makes you crystallise your purpose, which drives direction and business decisions. If you’re a B Corp, it means you have done the work to prove your positivity and are committed to continual improvement.
B Corp is a worldwide movement working to transform into a fair and regenerative economy. I’m proud to be part of this community as much as I am proud of all the positive impact we’re driving through our chocolate business. We demonstrate our dedication to a brighter future through practices that include support for Fairtrade farmers, production of certified organic products, and net climate-positive status.
HOW WE DID IT
Being a B Corp Certified business means measuring and assessing our entire social and environmental impact and being accountable for improving that year upon year. We are assessed on the five key pillars of Governance, Workers, Community, Environment and Customers.
Based on the B Impact Assessment, Bennetto Natural Foods earned an overall score of 120.4 points. This means we’re a ‘high-scoring B Corp’ as 80 points are needed to qualify. The median score for most businesses who complete the assessment is currently 50.9. So here is how we did it:
1 By being Fairtrade Certified.
Our products are all made up of Fairtrade-purchased ingredients, and as a business, we are Fairtrade-certified chocolate producers. This means we also go through the auditing process, which keeps the supply of Fairtrade-ness unbroken throughout the value chain. This starts with the farming co-operatives and ends with us. As a side bonus, this also means transparency. As a consumer, we guarantee that the chocolate you are eating is fair by covering the four principles below;
- The Fairtrade Minimum Price has been paid. This can be higher, but it guarantees it will never go below a certain amount, so the farmers can still make a living even when the market price drops.
- The Fairtrade Premium is covered. This is a fixed additional amount of money that provides farmers and workers with the capacity to invest in improving the quality of their businesses and communities. And it is spent according to their own needs.
- The Fairtrade terms of trade between farmers and buyers have officially been met. This protects the workers’ rights.
- The Fairtrade organisation is 50% owned by producers representing farmer and worker organisations. With an equal voice, the producers are involved in decisions on overall strategy, use of resources and setting prices, premiums and standards.
- By being certified organic, gluten-free and vegan
We prioritise quality and health-conscious choices for our customers, respect for the soil, and guarantee cruelty-free ingredients.
- By tracking and offsetting our carbon
Through Net Climate Positive programmes, we go further from being carbon neutral by offsetting more carbon emissions than we produce. Our business carbon emissions are offset through EKOS, which supports New Zealand and the Solomon Islands projects, while our manufacturing emissions are offset through the Pur Project. For every 1000 chocolate bars produced from cacao farms in Peru or Ecuador, we plant one timber tree back into the rainforest.
- Through charitable partnerships
We donate 100% of profits from our Original Dark 60% bar to the Forest and Bird Society of New Zealand, which supports endangered birds annually. Additionally, 10% of profits from our drinking chocolate go to the Endangered Species Foundation in New Zealand.
- By supporting our supply chain partners
We work on projects with farming co-operatives in addition to the scope of Fairtrade. Through the ‘MamaBay Conservation Through Cacao Project,’ we work with our manufacturers to transform 300 hectares of cleared farmland into mixed species cultivation by 2028.
So, to me, B Corp is a no-brainer – it’s about our accountability and, stimulating a different way of thinking and inspiring other businesses to do the same. Change comes in tipping points and critical masses, so the more companies on the B Corp train, the better. Imagine the clean, fair and just world we could create. What’s stopping your business?