Johan Kjellsson


Johan Kjellsson

Works as

Strategic Buyer

Employed since



Carrying out strategic plans for the various categories and buying the spices, herbs, and vegetables we need.

The best thing about working for Culinar

My friendly colleagues and the supplier contacts all over the world. And above all getting out and talking to the growers in the field in the source countries.
Hi Johan! You’ve been working as a buyer for Culinar for 16 years. What do you think is the most important change in how you buy spices, herbs, and vegetables today compared to when you started?
The entire purchasing strategy has changed enormously. Now buying products certified as sustainable, as far as possible, is always part of the dialog with the suppliers. It wasn’t like that when I started out. The discussion around buying certified products began in 2013, and at that time we were talking about organic. Now organic isn’t the only issue, social aspects have also come into play. From starting with 4% organic in 2013, we’re now at 70% certified for turmeric in 2022. Another important change has also been that the customers have started caring about how the products are grown. It used to be primarily the producers who considered this to be important. Also, during audits there’s now often one person looking at the social aspects of the production. Previously the focus was primarily on the food safety side.
What does the customer pay when you buy so much that’s sustainability labeled?
We haven’t previously labeled our products at all, despite buying Rainforest Alliance or similar products, so we haven’t charged any additional fee. But from this year, Kockens’ Rainforest Alliance labeled pepper will cost a little more.
You’re part of the Sustainable Spices Initiative. What does that mean?
Yes, in 2018, we signed our letter of intent and joined the SSI’s global collaboration platform. It was our then purchasing manager who ran the process, and that’s inspired a lot of our work in this area. It’s a requirement for SSI members that 25% must be sustainability labeled by 2025, but Culinar has already passed that level and we’ve set our sights much higher. Within the SSI there are also a range of working groups exploring things like the pay situation to create knowledge for the members.
What does it mean that you’ve now taken the step to label products as Rainforest Alliance?
Previously, we only followed up the certifications via our suppliers, but now the Rainforest Alliance also carry out audits of our facility. They go through our plant and documentation to make sure everything is correct. The certification was complete in 2022, and since January this year our Rainforest Alliance labeled pepper has been available in stores.
What will happen in the future?
We will continue to work to increase the proportion of certified spices. We’re also trying to work to achieve a closer dialog between buyers and the customers’ sustainability managers, because there’s often a gap there between ambitions and reality.