Earlier this year, Koster Keunen, Inc. a chemicals manufacturer company focused on wax technology announced the launch of a new video highlighting its sustainable beeswax program “The Bee Story.” The video, which sheds light on the company’s efforts to adopt more sustainable ingredient sourcing practices, focuses on Koster Keunen’s West African beeswax sourcing program and features an in-depth preview of the beekeepers and Koster Keunen employees as the beeswax is sourced and processed through the supply chain.
According to recent market research, “the beeswax market, which was growing at a value of 0.53 billion in 2021, is expected to reach the value of USD 0.67 billion by 2029 at a CAGR of 3.0% during the forecast period of 2022-2029.” Additionally, per a recent data analytics report, “according to Food and Agriculture Organization statistics, Asia and Africa are the leading producers and consumers of beeswax,” and Koster Kuenen is a top five key player in the beeswax market. When considering this data, it can therefore be reasonably assumed that the company’s sustainability initiatives will have a measurable environmental impact regarding ingredient sourcing of beeswax.
To learn more about the program’s implementation, the creation of “The Bee Story” video, future goals for Koster Keunen’s sustainable beeswax program, and the potential environmental impact of the company’s sustainability efforts, CosmeticsDesign spoke with John Koster, President of Koster Keunen, for his insights.
CDU: What is the potential impact of the sustainable beeswax program on global manufacturers and suppliers to the cosmetics and personal beauty care product industries?
John Koster (JK): The beauty of the impact of Koster Keunen's sustainable beeswax program in the cosmetics and personal beauty care product industries are multifaceted.
With the implementation of Koster Keunen's sustainable beeswax program, manufacturers and suppliers can have access to a more eco-friendly and ethically sourced raw material with traceability of the raw material all the way back to the individual beekeeper. With the training that is part of our program, we help our team of beekeeping partners reduce their environmental footprint, increase pollination, and reduce food and income insecurity.
Globally, as consumers become increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their purchases, they are more inclined to choose products made from sustainable ingredients. By adopting Koster Keunen's sustainable beeswax, manufacturers and suppliers can meet this growing demand and attract environmentally conscious consumers.
Companies that align with sustainable practices enhance their brand image and reputation. By incorporating Koster Keunen's sustainable beeswax into their product formulations, manufacturers and suppliers can showcase their commitment to sustainability and ethical sourcing, potentially gaining a competitive edge in the market.
Our sustainable beeswax program contributes to a more stable supply chain, it promotes responsible beekeeping and biodiversity preservation. This helps ensure a consistent supply of beeswax, reducing the risk of disruptions in the supply chain due to environmental factors or unsustainable practices, and increases the level of partnership that we have with the beekeeping groups guaranteeing a market for their wax.
Collaboration opportunities have also come out of our program. Koster Keunen’s beeswax program can create opportunities for collaboration among manufacturers, suppliers, beekeepers, and other stakeholders in the cosmetics and personal beauty care product industries. These collaborations can foster innovation, knowledge sharing, and the development of new sustainable practices.
CDU: Why choose to produce and distribute a video to promote the sustainable beeswax program?
JK: Koster Keunen chose to produce and distribute a video to promote their sustainable beeswax program for several reasons.
The video format allows Koster Keunen to tell our compelling story about this program, showcasing the program's benefits, the company's commitment to sustainability, and the positive impact on the environment and local communities.
By making a video we were able to show the emotional connection between our team and the beekeepers. By showcasing the efforts of beekeepers, the role of bees in our ecosystem, and the importance of sustainability, Koster Keunen can build an emotional connection with viewers, encouraging them to support and choose products made with sustainable beeswax.
We also believe that video has a wider reach than print. We plan to promote the video through various digital platforms, such as social media, YouTube, and websites. We believe this video will reach global manufacturers, suppliers, and consumers, raising awareness about our sustainable beeswax program and its benefits.
CDU: Have there been any challenges to implementing the sustainable beeswax program? If so, what were those challenges and how were they overcome?
JK: As with any large-scale initiative, Koster Keunen has been met with and overcome various challenges while building our Sustainable Beeswax program.
Ensuring the safety of beekeepers and company representatives in remote areas can be a challenge due to potential threats, such as unstable local conditions.
Logistics in these remote areas are challenging. Transporting beeswax from remote areas to aggregators and processing facilities is challenging due to limited infrastructure, extreme weather conditions, and other factors. Koster Keunen has developed strategic partnerships with local transporters including minibus companies to help insure the consistent supply of raw materials from the remote areas to the collection centers.
A beekeeper with ten hives will produce around twenty kilograms of wax annually (although the exact amount may vary). To obtain enough beeswax, Koster Keunen works with many beekeepers: there are currently around 30,000 beekeepers in our sustainable program. Managing this vast network is challenging, and requires effective communication, coordination, and quality control.
To tackle this issue, Koster Keunen is in the process of finalizing the creation of a smartphone app where the aggregators enter data as beekeepers supply the beeswax. We also provide the training and resources necessary for beekeepers to maintain consistent quality.
CDU: Do you have any future plans to expand the sustainable beeswax program, or to develop and release additional program promotion materials (like more videos)?
JK: Koster Keunen indeed has plans to expand our sustainable beeswax program. As demand for sustainable products grows, we continue to add beekeepers to the program. Many people who are not involved in the program often express interest in joining, particularly during training sessions held in villages. This is because farmers participating in the sustainable beekeeping program can often double their income by adding ten to fifteen hives of bees.
Koster Keunen's program not only trains new beekeepers but also provides them with hives, beekeeping equipment like suits, veils, smokers, and other necessary tools. We have been working with USAID (the United States Agency for International Development) on two beekeeping capacity-building projects (USAID is an independent agency of the U.S. government that provides economic, development, and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States).
Koster Keunen is in discussions with USAID about initiating a third project, highlighting both our commitment as well as USAIDs commitment to expanding beekeeping and sustainability in West Africa.
CDU: What are the overall goals of the sustainable beeswax program, and how is progress towards those goals determined?
JK: Koster Keunen's sustainable beeswax program is designed with several overarching goals in mind, which focus on promoting sustainability, supporting local communities, and ensuring a stable supply of high-quality beeswax for the cosmetics and personal beauty care product industries. Some of the key goals include:
Sustainable sourcing: One of the primary objectives of the program is to promote sustainable and responsible beekeeping practices. This involves ensuring that the beeswax is ethically sourced and that the methods used do not harm bee populations or the environment.
Biodiversity preservation: The program aims to preserve and protect biodiversity by promoting practices that help maintain healthy ecosystems and support the well-being of bees, plants, and other wildlife.
Community empowerment: Koster Keunen's sustainable beeswax program seeks to support local communities by providing beekeepers with training, resources, and equipment. This helps improve their livelihoods, increase their income, and promote economic development in the areas where the program operates.
Ensuring supply chain stability: The program aims to establish a stable and reliable supply chain for beeswax by supporting a large network of beekeepers, implementing quality control measures, and fostering collaboration among various stakeholders.
Progress towards these goals is measured through a variety of methods, including:
Monitoring bee populations and environmental impact: Regular assessments of bee populations, their habitats, and the surrounding ecosystems help determine the effectiveness of the program's sustainability measures.
Evaluating the social and economic impact on communities: Assessing the changes in income, living conditions, and overall well-being of beekeepers and their families provide insight into the program's success in empowering local communities.
Tracking supply chain performance: With the help of our smartphone app we are able to evaluate the stability, reliability, and efficiency of the supply chain, along with the quality of the beeswax produced, all which measure the program's effectiveness, ensuring a steady supply of high-quality beeswax.
Expansion and collaboration: The growth of the program, measured by the number of beekeepers involved, partnerships established, and collaborative projects undertaken, are measures of the program's progress towards achieving its goals.
CDU: Anything else to add?
JK: The Koster Keunen sustainable beekeeping project is an essential initiative that demonstrates our company's commitment to environmental responsibility, ethical sourcing, and social development.
A few additional aspects of the project worth highlighting are:
Collaboration and partnerships: The success of the sustainable beekeeping project relies on strong partnerships and collaboration with various stakeholders, including local beekeepers, communities, NGOs, government agencies like USAID, and other organizations. These relationships help to ensure the long-term sustainability and impact of our program.
Education and awareness: The project also emphasizes the importance of raising awareness and educating the public about the benefits of sustainable beekeeping practices and the role of bees in our ecosystem. By promoting understanding and appreciation for sustainable practices, Koster Keunen is doing its part to contribute to the growth of the sustainable cosmetics and personal care market.
Corporate social responsibility: The project highlights Koster Keunen's commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and aligns with global sustainability goals. By investing in sustainable practices and empowering local communities, the company sets a positive example for the cosmetics and personal care industry and helps to drive the transition towards a more sustainable future.
Koster Keunen's sustainable beekeeping project is a comprehensive initiative that involves collaboration, innovation, education, scalability, and corporate social responsibility. By focusing on these aspects, the project not only addresses the immediate needs of the cosmetics and personal care industry but also contributes to broader environmental and social change.