Message to Stakeholders from Pertti Fallenius, CEO
This year, our sustainability report is about our people and their stories. It’s about the work they do and the choices they make. We’ve come a long way in our journey to become the industry leader in ethical and sustainable business, and we owe our success largely to the integrity of our people.
“Our success is measured not only on results but on how we achieve them.”
New Code of Conduct
This year, the launch of our Code of Conduct has been a landmark project across the company. We have our values of Reliability, Profitability, and Sustainability to help keep us on track; and it’s from these values, as well as from international law and legally recognized principles, that we’ve created our own distinct Code of Conduct.
The new Code forms the framework for all company operations and sets out standards of behavior for all employees including our Board of Directors and Management team, who have all signed up to the code. Internal roll out of the code is ongoing and so far, more than half of our people have been trained and signed up.
A new company wide Code of Conduct launched in 2017 further positions Saga Furs as the industry benchmark for ethical and sustainable business.
Certification: Part of Our DNA
Late this year a disturbing issue arose, which could be seen as a defining moment for our industry. It involved an inquiry into the unacceptable practice in isolated cases of farmers raising over-sized Blue foxes. Saga Furs has strong processes and tools promoting sustainable and transparent fur farming, which we’ve been building up and taking actions on for many years. These include our Farm Certification Program which works like the DNA of the company, as well as product traceability as an assurance to our fashion customers. Since Saga Furs only sources foxes from certified farms, we were able to react immediately and decisively.
We issued a new company directive that oversized fox skins will not be accepted, and would be sent back to the farmers involved. ProFur, our parent organization, added a new vet to their team, dedicated to monitoring farms and fox weight. We are also redoubling our efforts in farmer education to create a clear understanding that there are no benefits from raising over-sized foxes and that in doing so their farms will not be eligible for Saga Certification, by Finnish Standards.
A New Milestone in Certified Mink
On a higher note, earlier this year, we led the industry with our new offering of 100% certified mink lots at our auction. Responding to demand from global brands and the next generation of consumers on sustainability and animal welfare, we’re continually developing our Certification Program to meet the highest standards that go well beyond what the law requires. Saga Furs sales of Fox and Finnraccoon have already been 100% certified for over five years, however, this new mink offering is the first of this kind for Saga Furs and the industry and I see it as moving the farming community towards even higher standards.
From this year, certification now incorporates a new industry-level protocol called WelFur, a science-based animal welfare assessment, which was developed by independent scientists at seven European universities. We were pleased to work with the fur and fashion industry on the development of WelFur as one of the lead sponsors of the program. For us it has become a very valuable tool that provides additional validity to our existing Certification Farm Management System.
Digitalization Technology and Green Power
We are moving forward proactively on digitalization with big programs in place, rolling out electronic channels across the business. In addition to the environmental benefits, digitalization helps us provide better faster and more transparent services to our supplier farmers, trade customers and buyers, as well as among our own employees. We’re also experimenting with online auctions for selling small quantities of warehouse products in between our larger on-site auctions, held four times a year. We also continue to source all electricity for heat from renewable waste to energy.