United Fresh’s sustainability center wants to engage industry members in its ongoing discussions about what sustainability means to the produce industry.
The United Fresh Foundation Center for Global Produce Sustainability, Washington, D.C., is part of the discussion of how to define sustainability specifically for fruit and vegetable production and the supply chain, said Burleson Smith, vice president of environmental affairs and sustainability, United Fresh Produce Association.
“The center really looks to bring people together to help share successes … and to look at setting their own goals for where they want to make improvements,” Smith said.
Nikki Rodoni, director of sustainability for Oxnard, Calif.-based Gills Onions LLC, is chair of the center’s advisory board.
The board has representatives from throughout the supply chain. It met three times in 2011 and is scheduled to meet again Jan. 24. It plans to review the current status of sustainability and discuss the practicality and usefulness of existing and future programs.
“Growers have arrived at systems that work based on local conditions and customer demands and other factors that someone in another part of the world might not have the ability to exactly replicate,” Smith said.
“What we’ve incorporated … won’t necessarily work for everybody,” Rodoni said. “But it can be a starting point for others.”
Bayer CropScience has committed to providing funding to the center, which opened in 2009, for its first four years, Smith said.
As part of its efforts to encourage communication about sustainability throughout the industry, the center plans to launch a new website, Smith said.
The site is expected to include a forum where industry members can discuss accomplishments and ideas. The center’s site will be part of a broader foundation website, he said.
He said he did not yet have a launch date to release.