“One is third-party is big business, and the other is trying to create more of a level playing field and understand what it really is,” he said.
United Fresh’s sustainability committee published a self-audit system, which allowed a company to determine how successful it was on a “pathway to sustainability,” Pepperl said.
Sustainability is a quantifiable concept, he said.
It’s also useful to see how a company is measuring up in social, as well as economic, categories of sustainability practices, Pepperl said.
“You can’t manage it if you don’t measure it,” he said.
Companies should be aware of the latest measures being taken across the industry, said Gina Nucci, director of healthy culinary innovation with Salinas, Calif.-based Mann Packing.
“Currently we’re working with industry associations, such as United Fresh and its sustainability task force, to keep abreast of any certification proposals,” Nucci said.
The industry has proven competent in taking care of its sustainability issues without outside pressure, Nucci said, citing the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement as an example.
“We’re also participating in the Stewardship Index for Sustainability by testing different field operation metrics and reporting back on our successes and challenges,” she said.