Since our blog earlier this year on the benefits of sustainability to the fresh produce industry, we have seen a trend in the messaging from others in the industry to show off their credentials when it comes to sustainability. The reasons for this is clear; sustainability is a cornerstone for businesses that want to see growth well into the future.
In this blog, we look at the three core areas of sustainability (economic development, social development, and environmental protection), how our industry is engaging the end consumer in these areas, and why they are good for our industry.
Economic & Social Development
No business exists in isolation. There is a complex web of interrelated businesses and people that influence, and are influenced by, every packhouse. These range from the community that the packhouse exists in, to the shipping routes through which the produce travels, and the end consumer.
In many cases, a packhouse can be the largest employer in a given area. Fresh produce is, by its very nature, seasonal. This means that every year, packers have to re-engage their workers, competing with other businesses to attract workers. Using initiatives to help ensure you retain staff, keep them engaged, fit and healthy benefits you in the long run, as it makes it easier to retain workers year-to-year. Fowler Packing is a great example of this, with an on-site health clinic ensuring their workforce are happy to come to work, knowing their employer cares for them.
“Fowler Packing takes pride in this benefit, and will continue to focus on the health and well-being of the company’s most valuable assets: the family of team members.” Fowler Packing – Our Commitment, Social Responsibility
Simplifying your delivery to market can reduce your carbon footprint, whilst also reducing costs. Zespri has recently taken steps to do this, after recognizing that shipping was the greatest contributor to their carbon output.
“Zespri uses highly efficient direct shipping to reach consumers across the world. Shipping is responsible for the greatest contribution to the carbon output in the Zespri supply chain, providing the greatest opportunity for reductions in emissions.” Sustainability the Zespri Way
Engaging with the end consumer on sustainability has become more and more important as they become more aware of the entire lifecycle of produce. Being able to demonstrate sustainable practices enhances your brand in the eye of the consumer, enabling you to command a higher price while reducing the complexity of your operations.
With limited resources, whether it be land, labor or water, as well as increased regulation, consumer pressure and expectations, our industry is continually challenged to innovate to meet demand. The drive to build efficiency, minimize waste and maximize resources is leading to the development of new technologies.
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Many growers are now utilizing sustainable farming practices, to ensure the land they use to grow their crops are fertile for generations to come. Costa is one of the companies leading this trend, with sustainable environmental practice having a direct positive effect on the bottom line.
“Costa is committed to sustainable agriculture. Not only is it a key strategy for maximising our profitability, it's also crucial to ensuring that our country's natural resources are utilised in both an environmentally responsible and efficient manner." Costa – Community and Sustainability
The drive for more sustainable energy production for operational cost reduction is also leading to new fruitful partnerships, such as Limoneira’s recent joint project with Tesla to reduce energy costs by leveraging cutting-edge battery systems coupled with 7 million kWhs of annual energy production at Limoneira’s solar installations.
Finding ways of doing more with less is become a core area of the fresh produce industry, not only to reduce our footprint but to reduce cost per pack while maintaining quality. Improving efficiency, ensuring the long-term viability of the industry, and building healthier relationships create a competitive advantage, increasing the value of your brand.
For both Compac and its parent company, TOMRA Systems ASA, sustainability is at the very core of everything we do. Our technology is built to enable better utilization of the world’s natural resources. With the world’s population booming, TOMRA and Compac know that resource productivity needs to increase to ensure sustainable development.
“Technology is at the forefront of this, and TOMRA’s mission is to support the move by providing businesses with the machinery that can help to strike the balance between productivity and sustainability.” TOMRA CEO Stefan Ranstrand in a recent article on Sustainability and Productivity
Sustainability is not just a trend for today, it is a direction the entire industry is moving in. Those who commit to sustainable development and practice will reap the rewards down the line, increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of their business while also doing their share to make the world a better place.