tant to Costco’s sustainability e;orts?
SF: As the world’s second-largest retailer,
we move an enormous amount of goods. We
want to make sure that we’re very efficient
in our operations and that we lower our carbon footprint. We have programs to construct energy-efficient buildings and keep
our energy and water use and emissions as
low as possible—in our warehouses and in
our depots—because we want to be good
stewards of the environment. And doing
these things saves money, which helps us
remain a low-cost operator.
CC: Can we be successful in these e;orts
and still o;er the best-quality products
and the lowest possible price?
SF: Yes—that’s an imperative. This is how
we will sustain our business model, which
is simple: We want to remain a low-cost
operator with the most efficient operations and supply chains possible. Often,
whether it’s with operations or our supply
chains, we’re able to improve the process
or product by eliminating inefficiencies,
providing us with cost savings.
Efficiency allows us to keep quality
high and prices fair for everyone in the
supply chain, including our members.
CC: How do members play a role in this?
SF: Ideally, our members will look to us to
help them make sustainable choices with
the products we offer, so when they purchase them they are supporting sustainable
practices. We have a lot of work to do to
become more sustainable and are continuing to improve our sourcing programs and
packaging. We’ll be introducing programs
to help our members recycle our packaging.
Together with our members we can
support these efforts by being informed
about the importance of sustainability
and climate change as our world continues
to transform. All of our futures depend
upon it. C
MUCH OF the world’s cocoa supply comes
from the West African nation of Côte d’Ivoire.
This cocoa goes into many of Costco’s
Kirkland Signature chocolate products. In
2009, Costco buyers and others involved in
the chocolate industry began asking hard
questions about how sustainable this critical supply would be as global demand grew.
The Sassandra Program, named after the
Sassandra River, an area where Costco
sources cocoa beans, was a response to
The comprehensive, ambitious program
is a partnership involving Costco and two
international food businesses, Blommer
Chocolate and Olam. It entails teaching
local cocoa growers the best techniques,
instituting a financial system to pay growers and purchase needed equipment, and
investing in production facilities. Profits
also go toward schools, clinics and other
social services to meet family needs. For
example, eight schools and two medical
centers have been built with financial
resources from the program.
The program has also focused on forest
restoration efforts. Nearly 7,000 farmers
have been trained in pre- and post-harvest
techniques and have integrated pest-man-
agement practices. Many have gone
through business training to strengthen
their entrepreneurial skills and better equip
them to obtain commercial loans.
“The Sassandra Program has strengthened the cocoa industry and the communities in the region,” says Tim Wahlquist,
Costco global sustainability supply chain
director. “It shows the power of a cooperative approach to bringing value to all par-ties, from the growers to Costco members.
We hope it can serve as a model for what
The Sassandra Program
can be done in other industries around
You can find the latest report on the
Sassandra Program in Costco’s Sustain-
ability Commitment. Go to Costco.com,
find “Sustainability Commitment” at
the bottom of the page, click on
“Merchandising” and then “Kirkland
Signature,” and scroll down to “Kirkland
A maternity ward in Côte d’Ivoire, ;nanced
through the Sassandra Program, has greatly
bene;ted the community.
Above: Solar panels on a Costco in Kauai,
Hawaii. Left: Costco buyers and teak growers
in Indonesia support sustainable practices.