Produce companies continue to implement and expand programs designed to make their operations more sustainable, and spreading the word about those efforts is the next step as consumers show increasing interest in grower practices.
Companies are engaging in many programs that help them better use their resources, from recycling or using alternative energy sources to reducing the use of plastic or adopting social responsibility programs like Fair Trade USA.
“We communicate our sustainability initiatives through many channels,” said Paul Schockman, sales office manager for Leamington, Ontario-based NatureFresh Farms. “We engage with our external consumers through our social media channels and our website. We regularly publish blogs that discuss our sustainable growing practices, and to share accurate facts and information, we consult our experts internally.
“On much of our packaging, we also have a call-out that says the product was sustainably grown,” Schockman said. “This way consumers know that they are buying a product that was grown with the environment in mind.”
John McKeon, senior manager for organic compliance and sustainability for Salinas, Calif.-based Tanimura & Antle, noted the recent launch of the company’s organic program has been a great occasion to talk about the company’s initiatives that focus on the efficient use of resources.
“(We are) constantly innovating with ag tech solutions like the Plant Tape business, solving labor and time constraints, (and the) use of automated mechanical weeding, also saving on energy and labor,” McKeon said. “Both of these innovations make for great conversations for our customers and consumers.”
Salinas, Calif.-based Taylor Farms aims to keep consumers informed through social media, its website, its blog The Taylor Leaf and its corporate responsibility report, said director of sustainability Nicole Flewell.
Chiquita Brands International also details its sustainability efforts on its website, and this summer the company is trying to get shoppers’ attention in-store as well, said Jamie Postell, director of sales for North America.
For four weeks in July and August, its banana stickers will be co-branded with music and video app Shazam, and people can scan the stickers to see videos that show how the fruit travels through the supply chain.