Montchevre offers consumers a variety of vague information on their website (they even manage to not list the ingredients of their cheeses) claiming they strive for worker safety and animal welfare. However, there is little detail behind their claims. The unique aspect, is that Montchevre is one company under the umbrella company, Saputo, which discloses a hefty amount of detailed papers on their animal welfare, worker safety, and environmental commitments and standards. This puts me in a tricky position to place judgement on Montchevre because while Saputo requires their partner businesses to uphold these standards, Montchevre does not disclose details on their goat cheese production. I hope that Montchevre abides by these high standards, however, would still like Montchevre to discuss what their products are made of and how they’re made for their consumers to see before giving a higher score.
Montchevre’s cheese are made of milk that come from their “well cared-for animals.” From Wholefoods’ website, I was able to find that their Plain Goat Cheese is made up of cultured pasteurized goat’s milk, salt and enzymes. However, I am curious if they add cultures and rennet too as cultures are needed to break down the fats and lactose, and release enzymes naturally occurring in milk to create bonds that help solidify the milk. I am curious if they didn’t want, or need to disclose this? Unfortunately on Montchevre’s website, there is very little information to base this category’s rating off of. I would like for Montchevre to showcase on their website 1. the ingredients in their cheeses and 2. what their goats are fed (what types of alfalfa, grains, etc, if it’s organic, and where it’s sourced from) so that I, and many other consumers, know what’s going into my cheese.
One last thing to consider is that the cheese is packaged in plastic shrink wrap. It is hard to get around this to increase the shelf life of many. foods, but something to keep in mind.
Montchevre boasts about holding their suppliers to stringent animal welfare standards, however, there is no transparency on the actual process of producing the milk and cheese and how their animals are actually treated. Because of this, I am very wary that their practices are humane and sustainable.
The company claims that they have a Zero Tolerance Policy (upper case letters) for any act of animal cruelty. How do they carry this out? Through industry regulations and Codes of Practice, routine supplier management practices, and awareness and training programs. This also includes validation by third-party animal welfare audits. I would take this with caution because as I mentioned in my Producers milk review, any type of certification, especially animal welfare, can be a facade just to showcase to consumers they’re “certified” but which lacks any real meaning and animal protection. For instance, in terms of animal pain relief for Montchevre, they state they expect suppliers to eliminate or modify practices that cause pain to the animal. I am wondering what practices this may encompass and how much pain is felt by the animal?
Upon more reserach, I found that the Animal Welfare Policy is established by Montchevre’s big company, Saputo. Saputo’s policy states that they have zero tolerance for any act of animal cruelty which includes but is not limited to: willful mistreatment and neglect of animals and acts that maliciously cause pain, injury or suffering. They expect that animal care assessment programs include a third-party validation to assure customers that animal care standards are being observed. I really commend Saputo for writing up these specific examples and standards they hold their partner companies to. My only concern is that the companies may not always follow through and comply with all parts of the standards. For example, Montechevre lacks any concrete information on their third party certification, making me highly suspicious that they do not have one. Nonetheless, it is commendable that Saputo has outlined specific animal welfare practices that they do not tolerate such as “tail docking cattle” and minimally using pain control (if you would like to learn more, look at the link to their Animal Welfare Policy below). Saputo has even contributed $100,000 to development of benchmarking and training materials in dairy goat care and handling, and producer outreach workshops in a partnership with Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. I only hope that they actually enforce these standards on all of their partners.
What I find so ironic is that Montchevre capitalizes their “certifications” including “Animal Care Awareness and Training programs,” “animal care Code of Conduct,” and “Animal Welfare Policy.” I would really like to know what these policies, codes, and training programs really are and a link to more information on them. Unfortunately, none could be found.
In regards to environmental goals, in 2020, Saputo has pledged to reducing their environmental impact in 3 categories by 2025:
In order to reach these goals, Saputo is investing $50 million over the next 3 years. They even provide case studies for how partner companies are striving to reduce their environmental impact. For example, their Australian Brand Sungold redesigned their milk container to use 65 versus 72 grams of plastic. This resulted in a reduction of almost 6,000 kg of plastics per year sine 2016. Another inspiring story is that at their Montreal, Canada offices, they have eliminated single-use plastic and have switched to compostable food containers in dining halls, as well as provided all employees with reusable water bottles, mugs and utensils (and set up compost and recycling stations for proper disposal).
I appreciate that Saputo has brought some transparency to processes and standards they hold their companies too, however, am disappointed that Montchevre, one of it’s companies, discloses so little information on how their cheeses are made and how their manufacturing plants run (how much water is used, how are animals milked and treated, how do they power their plants, etc).
Montchevre is one of the cheese brands included in Saputo Cheese USA, one of the USA’s top three cheese producers who produce, market and distribute a wide variety of cheese and dairy products.
As one of many food conglomerates and an influential player in the cheese industry, Saputo is widely looked upon by consumers, holding a sort of social responsibility to at least tell consumers they care about social corporate responsibility.
On Montchevre’s website, they publish The Saputo Promise. Upon diving into this 3 column, 3 page document, I found some aspects that I do appreciate. Saputo addresses business dealings: such as protection against bribery, and prohibiting Gifts from suppliers (along with gratuities and compensations); working conditions: meeting minimum wage laws at the least, paying for overtime hours, not discriminating in the hiring and working process; environment: ensure compliance with applicable environmental laws, use natural resources in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable way, strive to reduce water and energy consumption, minimize waste, and reduce CHC emissions.
Montchevre has also adopted the Supplier Code of Conduct which states that Saputo’s brands strictly prohibit human trafficking and slavery in any shape or form.
Montchevre also abides by The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010. This Act has 5 components
They claim that they “care deeply about the way our ingredients are produced, and expect the same from our suppliers”
Saputo is also working towards more diversity and inclusion and has deployed unconscious bias training courses to management employees across Canada, Argentina and the USA with goals to expand the course to new markets and to more employees. Although this has only been to management (and I think all employees need this training to prevent bias and discrimination in the workforce), I think it is critical for the leaders to first become educated to set the example for their employees to follow.
I would like Montchevre to disclose more about their own workers on their site but as they must comply with Saputo’s standards and policies, hopefully follow Saputo’s vision and standards.
California Supply Chains Act
Saputo Cheese USA
Saputo Responsible Sourcing: Supply Chain: Supplier Code of Conduct
Saputo Responsible Sourcing: Animal Welfare Policy
Saputo Responsible Sourcing: Partnerships
Saputo Case Study: Packaging
Saputo Case Study: Environment
Saputo Case Study: Diversity and Inclusion
Wholefoods: Plain Goat Cheese