Annual report 2022: Chapter 4

Chapter 4: Strategic partnerships

Annual report 2022

We don’t like flying solo, but rather depend on a vast network of partners from all sectors to elevate our work, and make it as impactful as can be. This chapter celebrates the partnerships that defined 2022.


We currently have 80 official partners, including companies like Dole Europe B.V., Tradin Organic, Cisco, Fairtrade Original, Verstegen Spices & Sauces, Trabocca, Social Vanilla, but also the Dutch and German government, knowledge institutes like the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), Dutch bank Rabobank, and NGO’s such as Solidaridad and the Rainforest Alliance

We are running projects in


including Honduras, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Indonesia, South Africa and Kenya


Our oldest partnership, with the Dutch Postcode Lottery, is making a huge dream become reality: A collective dream by Fairfood, Solidaridad, Rabobank and others to simultaneously tackle climate change and agricultural poverty (read more in chapter 3). All thanks to the Lottery’s generous policy of donating at least 40 percent of its revenues to organisations that work on improving the environment, human rights and development cooperation. We sincerely thank the Lottery and its participants. You help us prove that transparency and traceability are essential steps towards a more just and sustainable world. The fact that our impact is fastly increasing, is thanks to you!


Fairfood’s largest technology partner, the Silicon Valley-based Cisco Foundation, has proven to be a great ally in our mission to use technology to positively impact society. This partnership allowed us to expand Trace’s reach and improve first-mile connectivity through tweaks to the Field app and our Farmer Cards. With this combo, we managed to reach rural areas where access to (smart)phones and internet is scarce. Moreover, partnering up with Cisco allowed us to define our data governance principles as a way to ensure inclusion of farmers in the digital economy. Last but not least, Cisco made it possible for us to open source the Trace technology. Others can now build on what we learned in recent pilots and projects. 

“The first year of our grant really met, and even exceeded, our expectations in terms of what Fairfood would accomplish. When we went into this, we understood the value of what Fairfood was doing. What we were not so sure of, was how much impact they could have on the industry; looking from the outside, we couldn’t see how they would influence these big agri-food companies to actually do these things. “What’s in it for them? Are you really going to be able to sign them on to this?” At the end of this first grant period, Fairfood has proven that they were able to do this – they got some very big partners on board, and are working with a lot of farmers. We look forward to seeing how this can progress even further and faster with the second grant.” – Sue-Lynn Hinson, Grant Portfolio Manager at Cisco 


In 2022, we further reinforced the partnership with this important ally that shares our vision of genuinely sustainable business models. In 2020, as part of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Power of Voices grant framework, we embarked on our shared mission with the 5-year programme RECLAIM Sustainability! With this project on track, we took up a new challenge: From Climate Victims to Climate Heroes – as mentioned above, funded by the Postcode Lottery’s Dream Fund.

“We want to know whether a certain product claim can still be made in a bulk commodity market, in which not every ingredient is fully traceable. And also: whether such a claim is so valuable to a brand or another actor that it can result in a data premium for farmers. Perhaps even more important: whether you can make sure that premium reaches the farmer. Fairfood has already proven with Trace that this is possible in specialty chains - such as with Verstegen, where a quality and data premium is paid with proof that it reaches the farmer. But how does that work in bulk coffee, and with blends? That is what will make our collaboration special: if we can prove that. I’m delighted to see that the pilots are successful, and that we were able to fully trace containers of coffee and cocoa throughout the chain. I’m delighted to see that we didn’t find just 1, but 5 private sector partners. And I’m delighted to see that some companies really believe in this concept, whereas others feel it’s not for them - we need both of those to develop a sharp proposition.” - Frederik Claasen, Head of Policy at Solidaridad about the RECLAIM Sustainability! partnership 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, and Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality

In recent years, these three Dutch Ministries all became trusted allies, and important funders of our work. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the funder behind the programme RECLAIM Sustainability!, whereas the Responsible Business Fund (FVO) of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality is fuelling our partnerships with both Trabocca and Verstegen Spices & Sauces. The ministries act not only as funders, but as knowledge brokers, actively thinking with us on a strategic level.

GIZ and ALIGN partners

In 2022, we closely worked with GIZ to manage and improve our ALIGN platform, our guidance tool for living wage and income. Today, GIZ is the main funder and implementer of ALIGN, which is also endorsed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Rainforest Alliance, the Global Living Wage Coalition, Fairtrade International, and, more recently, by the newcomer Sustainable Food Lab (the main organisation behind the Living Income Community of Practice). Combining all of our expertise, ALIGN is a key gateway for companies looking to pay living wages and incomes in their supply chains.

Moreover, we can truly say that we closed 2022 on a high note thanks to a brand-new programme made possible by GIZ: aGROWforest. In this project, we are improving the livelihoods of Indonesian white pepper producers through agroforestry, in collaboration with another well-known partner: Verstegen Spices & Sauces.

MVO Platform

In 2022, Fairfood decided to stand firm with the Dutch MVO Platform (Responsible Business Conduct Platform), as we closely followed the arrival of the first version of national corporate responsibility legislation. The Platform, a network of Dutch civil society organisations (CSOs) and trade unions, pushes for government policies that encourage responsible business practices with companies, while holding those that don’t follow suit accountable. We are proud to support the great work the MVO Platform is doing with knowledge, advice and funding. 


IDVO is the Initiative on Sustainable and Responsible Business (Initiatief Duurzaam en Verantwoord Ondernemen in Dutch), a lobby initiated for binding Dutch legislation for companies, forcing them to respect people and the planet. Fairfood is one of over 130 signatories, including civil society organisations, companies, unions, and scientists, who all see national legislation as a stepping stone towards more ambitious legislation at EU level.


DISCO, short for Dutch Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa, is one of the national public-private partnerships of the ISCO family. This family – other members being, for example, GISCO (German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa) and FRISCO (French) – is working to improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers. Fairfood is one of the Civil Society Organisations providing knowledge to member businesses like Tony’s Chocolonely, Mondeléz, Nestlé Netherlands, and Friesland Campina, who are all looking to improve their business operations.

Together, we work towards achieving three goals: 1. Farming families whose main livelihood comes from producing cocoa will be able to earn a living income by 2030; 2. Cocoa-related deforestation and forest degradation in producing regions, where the Dutch cocoa industry and their trade partners source from, will have come to an end by 2025; 3. Effective measures and necessary actions contributing to ending all forms of child labour by 2025 are taken.

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