Almond Board of California achieves key sustainability rating

The Almond Board of California has been recognised for its California Almond sustainability programme (CASP), based on eco-friendly processing of crops.

Its benchmarking achievement under the global Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform, combined with US and California regulatory systems, saw the company awarded an FSA 2.0 Gold-level equivalency.

As part of the process, a series of core practices were compared and assessed and measured against federal and state legislative requirements. This included a total of 112 practices included in the Farm Sustainability Assessment scheme.

“The California Almond Sustainability Program (CASP) achieved the highest level of equivalency – Gold – with the Farm Sustainability Assessment,” according to Joe Rushton, FSA manager at SAI Platform.

“Gold equivalence reflects the comprehensiveness of the Almond Board’s sustainability programme coupled with applicable federal and state regulations, and demonstrates how the California Almond Sustainability Program can be used as an equivalent means of assessing sustainable practices relevant to the California Almond industry.”

The scheme for the Almond Board is believed to be the first nut-specific programme to be benchmarked to FSA 2.0, and one of only two US sustainability initiatives that achieved a Gold level equivalence.

Almond trees thrive in California with the unique combination of a Mediterranean climate, rich soils, natural resources, talent, and infrastructure to farm almonds. More than 80% of the world’s supply of almonds are grown in California.

Gabriele Ludwig, director sustainability and environmental affairs, at the Almond Board of California, said: “The Almond industry through the Almond Board has a long traditional of continuing to seek better ways to grow almonds in California.

“Establishing equivalency with the FSA’s Gold level is an important step in recognising the industry’s commitment to continuous improvement that is helping almonds to be an economically, environmentally, and socially responsible crop for California and the world.

“CASP has been a valuable tool enabling farmers to assess their own practices and confidentially compare their farm management to peers. In fact, nearly a quarter of California Almond acreage has already been assessed through the programme. Thanks to this benchmarking, the California Almond industry can now begin to develop a supply chain programme that can best meet supply chain needs.”

As the company explained, the FSA 2.0 Gold equivalence provides the California Almond industry with a way to communicate on-farm practices and address stakeholder sustainability questions in a more harmonised and consistent manner, recognising common values from the orchard to the market.

The Gold level benchmark comes at a time when consumer demand for environmentally conscious is on the rise. This has been supported by recent research by Innova Market Insights reveals consumers are concerned about products and their ‘good’ credentials, proving the need for ingredients that can support sustainability and ethics claims in relation to humans, animals and the environment.

– For further details on the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform, visit http://www.saiplatform.org/

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