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Ensuring Sustainability in Your Supply Line

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What is Environmental Sustainability?

Sustainability is the idea of creating systems that can meet the demands of today without compromising the demands of the future. It is the tool we must use to ensure that future generations have the resources they need.

Regardless of political affiliation or whether you believe in climate change, the idea of sustainability just makes sense. We only have one Earth. It can only provide so much. It can only take so much.

More and more people are realizing this, not just at an individual level, but at a corporate level as well.

Consumer Interest

Sustainability has firmly planted itself as a mainstream ideal. Innova Market Insights calls it “The Sustain Domain,” and it’s number three in their list of Top Ten Food Trends for 2020, stating that “consumer expectations around sustainability are higher than ever…”1

According to a study by IBM and the National Retail Association in June of 2020, “57% of consumers are willing to change their purchasing habits to help reduce negative environmental impact.”2

Innova also expects sustainability to gain importance post-COVID “as public health priorities change toward feeding populations impacted by the economic consequences of the pandemic. Land and water conservation, responsible farming, production of healthful diets, and reduction and rechanneling of food waste will all be critical.”3

Investors are also pushing for environmentally responsible investments, driving change from multiple directions for publicly traded companies.

Sustainability in Agriculture

Sustainability has long been a problem in agriculture; our resources in land, water, soil nutrients, and more are being stripped faster than we can replace them.

Businesses involved in industrial agriculture need to take the reigns and spend money now to ensure environmental longevity and continued resources for future generations. It is our responsibility to evolve from the way we’ve been doing things for hundreds of years – we need to evolve from methods that are environmentally damaging to newer methods, backed by science, that promote healthy soil, biodiversity, water preservation, and less polution.

We need to change from traditional, wasteful methods such as flood and furrow irrigation, to sustainable methods like monitored drip irrigation.



BCFoods Agriculture App: Intelligent Farm Management

Another way that we can evolve is by embracing technology and using it to guide us. Using advanced weather stations, soil sampling, and connected phone apps can have a tremendous impact on sustainable practices in industrial agriculture.

Soil sampling provides nutrient and contaminant content, among other details, and informs us how to efficiently use agrochemicals and limit their use in our fields. Information gathered from weather stations with soil moisture probes and integrated with forecast models help automate both irrigation and chemigation.


*Sustainability projects partially funded by the Knorr Sustainability Partnership Fund

Sustainability in Production

Processing food can have a tremendous impact on the environment as well, such as water waste from cleaning raw material, and water used to remove soil and stones from that material. These actions can take an abundance of water.

Another example is food waste from “ugly” food and unwanted components that commonly go to waste

To help reduce waste, water can be used for local projects such as thermal power or irrigation of non-agricultural environments, such as golf courses

Another action that can be taken is upcycling, which is a method of sustainable processing that is just starting to be widely recognized. An example of upcycling is citrus peel. Leftover citrus peel from juicing applications is typically discarded but can be dehydrated and used in seasonings blends, tea, beer, and many other applications. Dehydrated ingredient processors like BCFoods have been using this method for a long time.


Top: Water from processing used to power thermal power plant
Bottom: Peels discarded from juicing fruit can be dried and used for other food applications – known as “upcycling”

Verifying Your Supply Line

We know that environmental sustainability is important in commercial agriculture and processing. How do you know that your supply chain is sustainable? How can you promise your customers and investors that your products are sustainable?

One way is to ask for verification from your suppliers, such as proof of audits, certifications, and memberships to organizations devoted to the environment and sustainability.

>> See BCFoods’ certifications and accreditations.

You can also ask your suppliers what they’re currently doing to decrease their carbon footprint, water use, and other methods of protecting or improving the environment, along with requesting pictures of those projects.

>> Learn more about BCFoods sustainability projects.

Another way to verify your supply line is to work with vertically-integrated companies, which have control over the entire supply chain process, from planting seeds to processing. This helps ensure more control over what is happening in the supply chain every step of the way. Companies that are not vertically integrated typically have less knowledge and control. They may have certifications and audits for their own operations, but that doesn’t necessarily mean their suppliers or growing sources have the same accreditations.

And lastly, once we all feel safe to travel again, you should visit your suppliers. See first-hand what practices they have in place.

For more information about BCFoods, our sustainable practices, and our sustainable ingredient products, please explore our website or contact us.

Resources

1Innova Market Insights, Top Ten Trends 2020, https://www.innovamarketinsights.com/storytelling-winning-with-words-leads-innova-market-insights-top-trends-for-2020/

2IBM, Meet the 2020 consumers driving change, https://www.ibm.com/downloads/cas/EXK4XKX8

3Innova Market Insights, Sustainability: Future of the Food Supply, https://www.innovamarketinsights.com/services/innova-reports/

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Michelle WestEnsuring Sustainability in Your Supply Line