Organic veg box company Riverford has become the second highest-scoring food company in the UK* to be certified as B Corp thanks to its focus on worker wellbeing through employee ownership.
Riverford scored 124.6 out of 200 in its first B Corp assessment, with the second highest score of all certified UK food companies, behind ethical chocolate brand Divine Chocolate.
In total, there are 307 certified B Corp businesses in the UK across a wide variety of sectors.
Riverford’s highest score was in the ‘Workers’ section of the assessment where factors including employee ownership, a democratic governance system including a co-owner council, and a very high level of health, safety and wellness for all at Riverford.
To certify as a B Corp, a company also has to formally give people and planet the same weight as shareholders or profits, something Riverford didn’t need to change due to its employee ownership status.
Riverford also scored highly on the Community and Environment sections, due to sourcing a high volume of organic fresh produce from UK family farms (around 70 per cent of vegetables sold). Environmentally, the score was bolstered by the principles of organic farming that safeguard biodiversity, soil and water, as well as efforts to minimise negative impacts on air and climate, for example, by never using air freight.
Riverford sustainability and ethics manager Zac Goodall, who oversaw the application, said: “Aside from being proud to be a co-owner in a progressive and environmentally conscious business, I’m particularly proud of the score we were afforded in the ‘Community’ section of our BCorps impact assessment.
“Our commitment to sourcing as much produce in the UK from independent suppliers as possible, bolstered by purchasing significant volumes from close to our packhouses (with a significant proportion of this coming from right here in Devon) were both key contributors to this section of the assessment, and our overall score.”
Founder of Riverford, Guy Singh-Watson, said: “Riverford has always sought to balance the needs of planet, staff, suppliers and customers, with commercial success being a means to an end, not an end in itself.
“That’s why Riverford has recently become a certified B Corp. This not-for-profit certification uses a broad assessment, substantiated by an evidence base, to score companies’ social and environmental performance. It is not perfect – but it is gaining credibility, and has the potential to nudge business towards broader measures of success.
“We see the most vital benefit as not marking our own homework; regular assessment will highlight areas for improvement, and help us balance the competing demands of one ‘right thing’ against another.”