Ethics & ethos

Certified B Corp

Using business as a force for good.

B Corporation (or B Corp) is a certification for ethical businesses who work not just for profit, but to benefit people and the planet.

We don’t want to mark our own homework on ethics. Rigorous assessment by the experts at B Corp, looking at every inch of Riverford’s social and environmental impact, offers you a transparent view of our business – and shows us where we can do better.

Our current score is 124.6 out of 200. Most businesses score between 40 and 100, with 80 points required to become certified; a score of over 100 is considered outstanding!

You can learn more about B Corps, why we sought certification, and our scores below.

What is a B Corp?

We don’t expect you to just take our word for it that we’re 100% organic. You can look to the Soil Association logo on our veg, and know that an expert third party has given us their stamp of approval.

Similarly, B Corp certification is fast becoming a trusted symbol for ethical businesses. Wherever you see the B Corp logo, you know that business has been thoroughly assessed, and proven to uphold the highest social and environmental standards.

Why become a B Corp?

For businesses and customers, there are four huge benefits to B Corp certification:

  1. No vague claims and greenwash

    It would be easy to simply say we’re ‘ethical’ or ‘sustainable’ (already broad, subjective terms) and be selective about what we show to back it up.

    B Corps are rigorously assessed every three years. Social and environmental impacts are defined, assessed in-depth, and numerically scored – giving ‘ethical business’ a real, objective meaning.

  2. Transparency

    Because B Corps are scored publicly, you have a really transparent view of our business – so you know exactly what your money is supporting. You can even compare our score with other food businesses.

  3. Holding us to our word

    A special part of becoming a B Corp is changing the legal structure of your business. Every certified B Corp changes their articles of association to give people and planet equal weight as shareholders or profits. This commitment in law means that B Corps must consider community and the environment in everything they do.

    Because of Riverford’s employee ownership and the values embedded within, we didn’t need to make any changes – people and planet are already protected by our legal structure.

  4. A supportive community

    There are over 2500 (and counting) B Corps worldwide, in over 50 countries, all striving to use business as a force for good. Working groups are run on issues such as employee ownership, packaging and climate change – pooling resources and research, and creating positive change for the whole community.

How does certification work?

To become a B Corp, we had to go through the “B Corps Impact Assessment” (BIA): a huge questionnaire that looks at every corner of your business. It’s broken down into five main areas:

  1. Governance
  2. Environment
  3. Workers
  4. Community
  5. Customers

Once you’ve filled in the questionnaire, the ethical experts at B Corp request evidence for a selection of your answers. They then analyse everything you’ve provided and give your business a score out of 200. You must score at least 80/200 to be certified. This assessment is repeated every three years.

When you first become a B Corp, there’s usually one vital extra step: you must change the articles of association of your business, to give people and planet equal importance as shareholders or profits. We didn’t need to do this, because Riverford’s legal structure is already designed to protect our values forever.

Riverford’s scores

Riverford scored 124.6 out of 200 in our first B Corps Impact Assessment – an outstanding score, which we’re really pleased with. Most businesses score between 40 and 100, with 80 points required to become certified. So, what helped us score well?

Our highest score was in the Workers section of the assessment. Several factors helped us to excel: our employee ownership, a democratic governance system including our Co-owner Council, and a great level of health, safety and wellness for all at Riverford.

We also scored highly on the Community and Environment sections. Our Community score was particularly high because we source so much from UK family farms. Environmentally, our score was bolstered by the solid principles of organic farming, as well as our efforts to minimise our negative impacts on air and climate (for example, by never using air freight).

It’s good to know where we’re doing well – but it’s also really useful to know where we could improve. The assessment highlighted a few areas where we’d like to do better, including:

  • Educating co-owners on our environmental and social performance
  • Quantifying our energy use reductions
  • Reducing or offsetting carbon emissions
  • Carrying out carbon footprints for individual products
  • Monitoring biodiversity on the farm

Some of these we’re already beginning to tackle.

More in Ethics & ethos

View all in Ethics & ethos