Kibsons: Selling sustainability

Kibsons CEO Halima Jumani spoke to Campaign Middle East about being truly sustainable as a company

As a family business, we have a great amount of respect for our staff who have helped us grow through a journey of over 40 years.

We have been through difficult times together and we know that the sustainable way is the way of kindness and giving back.

Those are the values on which the Kibsons brand is based. In our core business, we apply the same values of being ethical and responsible in the products we select, the supplier relationships we build, and the operational processes we structure.

Our vision is to be kind to both health and planet. We strive to bring healthier, safer, clean-label and more eco-friendly products to the community and aspire to build a brand that prides itself on quality, transparency, sustainability and giving back to the community.

Would you say Kibsons was ahead of the curve when it comes to sustainability?

Within the fruit and vegetable wholesale industry, our management has been visionary and ahead of the curve with respect to its commitment to people and planet.

We have strategically invested in building positive relationships (all stakeholders) and educating people about good health and sustainable practices.

Our state-of-the-art cold chain facilities and efficient procurement processes are testimony of our commitment to reducing food wastage. The introduction of eco-friendly packaging (the Kibsons boxes and brown paper bags) since seven years is a story of pioneering sustainable practices in ecommerce deliveries.

The planning and investment of solar panels in our facilities and water recycling systems are examples of being leaders within the industry who put sustainability first in their financial budgets.

The launch of an ‘ugly but tasty’ imperfect segment on our ecommerce platform over six years ago is another example of giving the community an opportunity to participate in reducing food wastage within the industry. Much ahead of the curve for sure.

Do you think customers shop with you specifically for this reason?

The customers shop for premium quality, affordable prices, but also the wonderful customer service they receive so consistently. Having said this, they overwhelmingly appreciate the efforts we make as a business to create an impact on the environment.

In today’s world, customers expect businesses of a certain scale and size to be responsible and transparent in their practices, and be acutely conscious of the impact their choices make on the community and the environment at large.

What more can you do in your sustainability efforts?

At this stage, we have completed the roll out of a sustainability materiality survey, in which different stakeholders have been requested to rank sustainability topics in the order of importance that they would like to see Kibsons focus on over the next year.

The results of this survey will help us navigate the sustainability roadmap for the near future. The idea is to work not only on projects that we believe are important but also on the topics that the stakeholders expect us to prioritise. Definitely, there is much more work on sustainability to be visioned and planned.

Did you ever think your boxes would catch on so much?

No, but it brings us so much satisfaction and pleasure to see that the boxes are consistently and effectively reused within the community for storage, transportation, cat homes, arts and crafts, projects, remodeling of play areas and even standalone features.

This is data and evidence to prove that the community will engage in protecting the environment by supporting sustainable choices.

Can you recycle boxes on-site?

Yes, we offer an option to schedule empty box collection at customers convenience.

How do you encourage customers to buy more local produce and become more sustainable?

All home-grown products are highlighted with a ‘local produce’ icon under a featured category. Also the country of origin is highlighted to encourage consumers to support the local industry and reduce the carbon footprint.

Our procurement models are responsive to consumer demand and therefore consumer choices play a big role in impacting procurement choices and priorities.

You said you were a long-term planner – what do you have in your current plans?

At present, we are focusing on defining our sustainability strategy and creating a roadmap for the next few years, where sustainability goals are embedded into the policies, processes and goals across different departments.

With a eco-friendly mindset, we are excited about launching many new brands, healthy products on the platform and cater to the diverse customer groups that shop at Kibsons.com

We are also keen on expanding the Kibsons convenience to other countries in the GCC, of course, one step at a time.