CJ WildBird Foods Ltd was founded in 1987 on a farm in rural Shropshire by Chris Whittles, a lifelong ornithologist and wildlife enthusiast. Along with a varied selection of bird foods, the business now offers a wide variety of high-quality wooden products including nest boxes and bird boxes, hedgehog houses, squirrel houses and frog bunkers, as well as insect habitats and bat boxes.
As well as within the UK, the company also operates in nine other European countries under the CJ Wildlife/Vivara brand and is recognised as one of the market leaders in the research, design and development of wildlife food and associated wildlife care products.
The company, which employs close to 200 staff, was an early adopter of FSC – first gaining FSC certification in 2003 – and as Sue Ellison, (Quality Management Systems) QMS Administrator at CJ WildBird Foods explains, the driver from the outset was to give their customers choice.
She said: “From the outset we believed it was important to source FSC certified products, if we could, especially as we produce ‘nature friendly’ products. It gives customers the choice to buy products knowing that they are benefitting, not damaging the environment.
“This is likewise very important for our trade customers. We supply to garden centres, supermarkets and department stores and we know that they are keen to project themselves as environmentally friendly and have environmental policies which necessitate the purchase of FSC certified goods.”
Sue adds that since the company first secured FSC certification, demand has steadily increased among consumers.
“FSC is a well-recognised and long-standing forestry product certification, and consumers would most likely know that it supports ‘friendly wood’ and appreciate the ethics that FSC stands for.”
“In the world today, it’s clear that it is more important than ever to manage forests responsibly. Being FSC certified is one way we can contribute to this and the trend is definitely moving in the right direction. In 2013, 64 per cent of our wooden product sales were FSC certified. In 2014, this had risen to 73 per cent.”
CJ WildBird Foods Ltd has multi-site FSC certification that covers operations at all five of their sites. These comprise the designated ‘Central Office’ in Upton Magna, Shrewsbury, which includes the head office trade and mail order storage and distribution with a trade and mail order storage and distribution also in the Netherlands, in Venray and Vierlingsbeek; and two sites in Lithuania.
For certification, CJ WildBird Foods Ltd opted for the FSC Transfer System – one of three chainof-custody systems available. Under this system, FSC certified material is separated from noncertified material at all times during the entire production and sales process including storage, handling, and processing.
“With the FSC Transfer System we buy in FSC certified goods and those products are then sold on with no further modification. They come to us ready to go,” Sue explained.
Given the size of the company, and high volume of wood-based products sold across the UK and Europe, Sue has found the most time-consuming aspect of certification concerns administration and archiving.
She said: “We need to make sure our FSC products conform to the chain of custody standard and make regular checks to ensure our suppliers’ certification is intact. We do this by using the FSC database which is a quick and simple process.
“We need to produce a product group schedule and monitor all invoices and purchasing orders, following strict guidelines so that paperwork includes the names and addresses of suppliers, registration addresses and certification codes, and the correct terminology.
“We make the FSC requirements as clear as possible to our suppliers so FSC goods are clearly identified both at their end and ours.”
Since January this year CJ WildBird Foods Ltd has been certified through world-leading multisector certification body BM TRADA.
BM TRADA auditor John Kirkby commented: “On the basis of the findings of the audit, the client’s multi-site system appears to be effectively managed and resourced.
“We also rely on BM TRADA to approve our use of the FSC logo on our marketing material such as our websites and catalogues and as we deal in many languages we feel this is managed very effectively,’ comments Ellison.
“During both audits, all staff who have responsibilities within the FSC system that were interviewed demonstrated a sound understanding of the relevant requirements of the FSC standards and how they were applicable to their areas of responsibility.”
Certification is valid for five years and is maintained through a programme of annual surveillance audits and a re-certification audit in the fifth year before the certification expires.
Sue added: “The audits are quite tough and there will always be a few issues identified, mainly with errors in the paperwork that are swiftly rectified, but we are well-versed on what is expected and work honestly to ensure we stay within FSC regulations.
“Things have become more complex since we first became certified but we appreciate the reasons for this. The FSC has to work incredibly hard, clamping downing on potential criminality to ensure that no-one can get around the system.
“I would definitely recommend FSC certification, but my advice is to do your homework. There’s a lot of administration but there are regional FSC offices which are always willing to provide help for companies looking to become FSC certified.”
FSC Licence Code FSC C008526 www.birdfood.co.uk, www.cjwildlife.org
BM TRADA is part of the Exova Group one of the world’s leading laboratory-based testing groups www.bmtrada.com