Businesses across the globe are focusing on sustainable practices as a cornerstone for future growth. Building efficiency, minimizing waste and maximizing resources are time-tested business methodologies which are taking on new meaning as the state of our planet’s health becomes clearer.
In this blog, we look at how increased interest in sustainability impacts the fresh produce industry, the efficient practices that are being adopted by industry players to raise sustainability and the positive effect this has on bottom lines.
In essence, sustainability is about meeting the needs of today, without adversely impacting on the needs of tomorrow. This statement has particular resonance for those of us working in the fresh produce and related industries. With the global population set to increase beyond 9 billion by 2050, we have a responsibility to ensure that the land will continue to bear fruit for future generations.
It’s also great for business. Customers, employees and investors are all increasingly interested in sustainability, and those who demonstrate a true commitment are reaping the rewards.
Compac customer Trevelyan’s provide picking, packing and cool storage services out of the beautiful Bay of Plenty region, New Zealand. At the forefront of sustainability in the New Zealand kiwifruit industry, Trevelyan’s initiatives are guided by The Natural Step framework and were first established in 2011. In 2015 the company issued their second annual sustainability report, further refining what these practices look like for them over the coming years. Their goal is to be “a business that works smart, respects our people, and treads lightly.” This focus on the future is already yielding results by attracting a record number of growers to their business.
“We want to make a difference and we know the way we do business is important to growers. Growers want us to be a responsible business that looks after our environment, our people and our community and our growers enjoy being a part of that journey with us” - Alister Hawkey, Executive Director, Trevelyan's
Since starting on their sustainability journey, Trevelyan’s have reduced carbon emissions by 25% per tray of kiwifruit packed, and reduced their waste to landfill by a whopping 77%. Check out their recent video, Welcome to Our World.
The rise of ‘Ugly Fruit’
The rise of ‘Ugly Fruit’ is helping packhouses become more sustainable by eliminating food-waste. Huge effort has been made to keep these cosmetically challenged produce from finding themselves in a landfill because they don't meet retailers' beauty standards. As awareness of massive food waste grows, major retailers are now experimenting with sales of less-than-perfect produce that may otherwise be wasted.
The Limoneira Co. in California, introduced Misfits in 2015, finding a new use for wind-scarred lemons. Director of marketing John Chamberlain said the effort has allowed the company to increase its fresh lemon volume 10% rather than sending the imperfect product to juicing. The lemons are also offered at a consumer-friendly price point.
“Limoneira Lemon Misfits tap into the growing trend for using the whole fruit and eliminating waste. Consumers, especially millennial shoppers, embrace sustainability. They dislike food waste, desire the authentic, and messages about the importance of farming resonate with them.”
An example even closer to home is Compac parent company, TOMRA Systems ASA. The acquisition of Compac has cemented TOMRA as the global leader in food sorting solutions, and sustainability is at the very core of everything they do. TOMRA products are built to enable better utilization of the world’s natural resources. Their mission is to create sensor-based solutions for optimal resource productivity, making sustainability profitable.
President and CEO Stefan Ranstrand explains that while it can be a difficult balancing act to weigh productivity against sustainability, the two are not mutually exclusive, and new ways of thinking are required to bring about the change that is needed.
“Sensor-based technology is playing a pivotal role in supporting the circular economy and also helping organizations to increase throughput without having a detrimental impact on the environment.”
“To ensure that new technology continues to support businesses and their objectives, it is important to continue focusing on how to transform how the world obtains, uses and reuses its resources by looking at the next major innovations and how they can support environmental as well as business objectives.” Wrote Stefan in a recent article for TOMRA.
With the world’s population set to increase by 30 per cent over the next 40 years, the planet will have to use less, to achieve more. Those businesses that commit to sustainable practices and adopt new ways of thinking, will affect positive change not only on the environment, but on the efficiency and effectiveness of their business, and ultimately their bottom line.