Here you can find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. 

Did we not answer your question? Send us your question via our contact page, and we will do our best to respond as soon as possible!

1. How do we source our products?

You can find information on Polarica’s global sourcing and supply chain here.

2. Where are Polarica production plants located?

Polarica maintains a widespread presence across Sweden, Finland, and Poland. You can find more detailed information on Polarica’s locations here. 

3. Does Polarica sell to retail?

Yes! Polarica sells to retail. For further information, please refer to Retail.

4. Does Polarica sell to HoReCa and Foodservice?

Yes! Polarica sells to HoReCa and Foodservice. For further information, please refer to Foodservice. 

5. What certificates does Polarica have?

We place great emphasis on adhering to quality and safety measures. The certificates we have obtained offer tangible evidence supporting this fundamental principle. You can find Polarica's certificates in the Economic Responsibility and Good Governance -section of our website. 

6. What are the criteria for berries to be considered organic?

You can find information about our organic products here. (link to the organic-section) 

7. What is the difference between organic and KRAV?

The regulations set forth by the EU establish a baseline standard for organic production. However, KRAV sets itself apart by imposing even more stringent standards in areas such as animal welfare, environmental impact, public health, climate, and working conditions. In fact, the KRAV Standards encompass a broader range of areas than those outlined by the EU for organic certification. KRAV is mainly used in Sweden. You can find more detailed information about KRAV here.

8. Can business operations be conducted while adhering to everyman's rights?

Everyman's right means the right to access and enjoy nature, including the freedom to roam, pick berries and mushrooms, and camp temporarily on public lands.  

A fundamental aspect of doing business in Sweden and Finland is ensuring that everyone's rights are respected. It is critical to emphasize the importance of using our natural resources responsibly while adhering to the rules and regulations put in place to protect them.   

Notably, the berry industry gathers just a small portion of the berries found in the forests, approximately 5%. We train all of our invited berry pickers to make them aware of their responsibilities and the rights of everyman, which must be strictly observed and protected. 

9. How do you ensure Ethical Practices in Berry Harvesting?

We are proud to have received a positive reliability rating from the TE Center.

Polarica will invite foreign berry pickers and form collaborative partnerships with subcontractors during the 2023 harvesting season.

With a longstanding presence in the industry, Polarica has formed productive alliances with various regulatory bodies, emphasizing continuous process improvement year after year.

Over ten years ago, we were the first berry company to produce a CSR report. Our operations undergo annual audits both in Finland (ISO 26 000 audit) and in Sweden (KIWA and KRAV certifications). Furthermore, local authorities and our valued clients conduct their own independent inspections and evaluations.

As we move forward, we will continue to work with our esteemed partners to maintain exemplary practices. Our commitment includes a steadfast focus on improving transparency and documentation within our operations.

10. Key reforms for the 2023 season

We will significantly raise the minimum income levels of our lowest-earning pickers beyond the statutory obligations and contractual commitments.

Accommodation facilities in Finland have undergone extensive assessments conducted by regulatory authorities and licensed building experts. Any necessary repairs and improvements have been promptly made. Likewise, in Sweden, we inspect the lodging facilities ourselves.

For the upcoming seasons, we have appointed two Polarica camp coordinators in both Finland and Sweden for enhanced on-site supervision.  

We provide pickers with two feedback channels: an initial survey at the start of the season focusing on the smoothness of the recruitment process and basic arrival-related matters, followed by a mid-season survey to address any identified shortcomings. A final survey is also conducted before pickers return to their home countries. Moreover, pickers have an open feedback channel throughout the season to express their views on various matters related to accommodation, treatment, food, earnings, yield, and more.

Our internal operational guidelines have been refined and seamlessly integrated into contractual agreements with our subcontractors. Thanks to these updated collaboration frameworks, we can now audit our valued partners in Finland, Sweden, and Thailand.

We are pleased to announce that we have formed a valuable partnership with a reputable Thai HR agency for the 2023 berry harvesting season in Finland.

We now require Laatutarha certification from all our garden fruit suppliers in Finland.

We will publish a detailed sustainability report, offering an in-depth perspective on our commitments to responsible business conduct.

11. What constitutes a fair and reasonable minimum net income for berry pickers, and how does Polarica guarantee its fulfilment?

In accordance with the law, it is the host company's responsibility to provide berry pickers with ample earning opportunities and to monitor their income progression throughout the season. At Polarica, we strictly adhere to the law and make sure that berry pickers receive a fair and reasonable minimum net income. Furthermore, in Finland, we are committed to significantly exceeding the mandated minimum net income. In Sweden, we go above and beyond by covering a portion of the pickers' travel expenses, thus increasing their net income.

In Finland, berry picking is conducted under the provisions of everyman's rights. Polarica purchases the berries gathered by pickers and compensates them based on prevailing market rates. The berries undergo weighing twice, using calibrated scales: first at the designated camps and then at Polarica's state-of-the-art facility.

Our commitment to fostering good earning opportunities for pickers is reinforced through the implementation of proven best practices, including:

  • Expanding the deployment of crop scouts on a wider scale, encompassing individual camps.
  • Closely tracking the weight of berries picked and the corresponding income generated by each picker.
  • Offering supplementary training in advanced berry-picking techniques.

Polarica pickers in Finland earned an average gross income of €6,042 during the 2022 berry season, while their Swedish counterparts earned an average of €7,027. After deducting all expenses, the average net income for pickers amounted to €2,301 in Finland and €2,586 in Sweden.

The Thai authorities (DOE) have stipulated a minimum net income threshold of approximately €840 (30,240 BAHT) for the berry season.

Compliance with the Finnish authority's requirement related to Schengen entry regulations, which amounts to €30 per day of stay (excluding flight tickets and accommodation), would effectively result in a lower minimum net income compared to the standard set by Thai authorities.

Net income denotes the earnings retained by pickers after deducting all aforementioned expenses.

Detailed reports on average expenses incurred in both Thailand and Finland are annually submitted to the TE Office.

In Thailand, berry pickers' expenses include flight tickets, visa fees, insurance, and transportation. In Finland, pickers assume responsibility for their own lodging, car rental, fuel, phone connectivity, and food expenses. In Sweden, pickers are responsible for their own accommodation and food. Recruitment fees are not charged in either country.

We have been facilitating advance payments to pickers for their flight tickets and visa expenses for several years now, without interest or additional charges. This proactive approach eliminates the need for pickers to take out interest-bearing loans in Thailand. The berry-pickers use the accumulated income earned during the season to repay Polarica for the flight tickets and visa fees.

12. What happens if the minimum net income is not reached?

If the pickers' earnings in Finland fall short of covering their expenses and do not meet the minimum net income threshold, Polarica provides compensation to bridge the gap.

Polarica obtains berry-picking picking services in Sweden from a subcontractor company that employs pickers. We see to it that subcontractors adhere to Sweden's minimum wage regulations and, if necessary, compensate the subcontractor, who then compensates the pickers for any income

We closely monitor and analyze income accumulation data on a seasonal basis. Last year, compensation was granted to 5.5% of pickers in Finland and 22% of pickers employed by subcontractors in Sweden.

Polarica guarantees fair compensation to subcontractors and their employees even outside of Finland and Sweden through collaborative efforts with, for example, mango suppliers in Peru and garden berry suppliers in Poland. Moreover, Polarica mandates that suppliers operating in high-risk countries undergo SMETA audits to ensure compliance with ethical standards.

13. How does Polarica ensure supply chain transparency?

Ensuring transparency in our supply chain is of paramount importance to us. We therefore personally visit the berry-picking camps in both Finland and Sweden. In other countries, we rely on independent audits carried out by organizations such as SMETA to evaluate suppliers in high-risk countries.

Major suppliers, including CAMPOSOL, annually publish in-depth sustainability reports detailing their operations.

Product traceability is one of our main priorities. We make sure that the origin of our products can be traced down to the specific day, camp, and picking location. Traceability is possible for berries coming from Polarica's own berry-picking camps down to the specific picker. Going forward, we aim to achieve the same level of traceability for other products as well.

14. How does Polarica define and ensure "good working and living conditions"?

At Polarica, we provide excellent, safe, and functional working and living conditions for our pickers. This includes aspects such as hygiene, nutrition, and accommodation:

  • Berry-pickers are provided with an appropriate number of meals each day, carefully designed to meet their daily energy requirements. We also closely monitor our food supply for quality purposes.
  • Accommodation options typically consist of shared or cottage-style housing, offering comfortable and suitable living spaces.
  • We maintain high standards of hygiene by providing dedicated washing facilities as well as separate kitchen and dining areas within the accommodations.
  • Residential areas are designed to be fire-safe, putting our pickers' safety and well-being first. Furthermore, pickers' vehicles are subjected to regular inspections to ensure their reliability.

We are committed to addressing any deficiencies that may arise in working or living conditions. The following indicators are used to assess the quality of living conditions on a regular basis:

  • Before and during the season, the camp coordinator conducts inspections of the pickers' working and living conditions. Polarica employs two dedicated camp coordinators in Finland and Sweden.
  • In Finland, a building expert visits all camps and identifies any necessary repairs prior to the season. In Sweden, we personally inspect the camp conditions.
  • One of the key monitoring measures is an annual external audit conducted in accordance with the ISO 26000 standard. In addition, authorities in both Finland and Sweden carry out regular audits.
15. What types of training programs and feedback channels does Polarica provide to pickers?

We offer specialized training programs for pickers focused on berry picking in Finland and Sweden.

  • Our training in Thailand covers essential topics such as berry picking fundamentals, harvesting techniques, key regulations pertaining to berry picking, income structure and cost breakdown, picker rights, public access rights, feedback procedures, wildlife awareness, traffic safety, berry varieties, historical price fluctuations, communication with authorities, and healthcare-related matters.
  • The Thai Department of Employment (DOE) organizes training sessions in Thailand, which are attended by Polarica coordinators.
  • We have also created a concise summary of the most important aspects of berry-picking legislation, which is reviewed again in Finland. This summary is presented to each picker group as a printed document in Thai.

Polarica actively encourages pickers to provide feedback, and we have several channels in place to collect their input and suggestions:

  • Throughout the season, we conduct a picker survey in Thai language. The survey QR code is displayed on camp notice boards and included in the group handbook.
  • In Finland, an initial survey is conducted with the assistance of an interpreter a few weeks after the pickers' arrival.
  • Satisfaction surveys are conducted at mid-season and at the end of the season.

We consider the pickers' feedback and suggestions when making decisions and improving our operations. The CEO personally reads all feedback to ensure that necessary corrective actions are taken.

16. What independent social responsibility audits has Polarica undergone?

Social responsibility audits are an integral part of our annual operations, conducted in accordance with the audit agenda and aligned with the standards of SMETA and ISO 26 000.

In addition to these audits, Polarica has successfully completed numerous other audits and obtained various certifications, including:

  • BRC
  • Organic (EKO)
  • Kosher
  • KRAV
  • FSSC22000
  • IFS Food
  • Bio Suisse

In addition to these, we also hold environmental responsibility certificates, such as Organic certification. Polarica also requires SMETA audits from suppliers operating in high-risk countries to ensure ethical trading practices.

Internal audits are carried out for smaller entities where extensive audits may not be applicable. We will continue to require these audits in the future to maintain compliance and sustainability standards.

More information:
SCHEDULE: https://www.sedex.com/solutions/smeta audit/

BRC: https://www.brcgs.com

ECO: https://ekogwarancja.pro

Kosher: https://oukosher.org/what is kosher/

KRAV: https://www.krav.se/en/forcompanies/certification of krav organic products/become krav certified/

FSSC22000: https://www.fssc.com/schemes/fssc 22000/

IFS Food: https://www.ifs certification.com/en/food standard

ISO 26000: https://www.iso.org/iso 26000 social responsibility.html

Bio Suisse: https://icbag.ch/resources/Merkblaetter 2021/ENG/ENG_SummaryoftheBioSuisseStandards_2021.pdf

Quality garden: https://www.puutarhalitto.fi/laatutarha/

17. What anti-corruption measures does Polarica follow, and how does you ensure their efficacy?

At Polarica, we are fully committed to cooperating with law enforcement authorities in investigating any potential instances of corruption.

We provide extensive training to our supervisors in anti-corruption practices and strategies.

To ensure financial integrity, we employ a dual-check principle that involves a thorough examination of all expenses.

Our company has established clear guidelines that govern the acceptance and giving of gifts. These guidelines are communicated to and understood by our supervisors.

To promote transparency and accountability, we have introduced an anonymous whistleblowing policy that allows our employees to report misconduct. Every report we receive is promptly addressed, and appropriate actions are taken accordingly. As previously mentioned, we have also established a dedicated feedback channel specifically for our pickers.



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