Ofi delivers first target for almond farming sustainability in Australia and US
Global agribusiness Ofi ingredients has unveiled its first sustainability targets for its 50,000 acres of almond orchards and farming operations in Australia and the US, writes Neill Barston.
As the business noted, with plant-based diets moving into the mainstream, the nut variety is a popular inclusion in everything from protein powders to nut butters for plant-based recipes, as well a number of popular chocolate ranges.
But eco-conscious consumers want to know their almond products are having a positive impact on the people and environment they come from.
Ashok Krishen, CEO of ofi’s nuts platform said: “At every stage, from plant to palate, we aim to delight consumers while supporting our purpose to be the change for good food and a healthy future. As one of the world’s largest almond growers, we’ve long invested in sustainable practices across some of our almond farming operations, like state-of-the-art irrigation and bee-friendly habitats. Now, we are seeking to deliver even more transparency and impact by setting public targets and sharing our data and insights.
“Customers can use ofi’s almonds, processed in our manufacturing facilities across the US, Australia and Vietnam, with our other sustainably-sourced ingredients to create customised products. From chocolate coated almonds made with ofi sourced cocoa, to almond milk lattes made with organic coffee and spices, we can work with customers to create natural, delicious, and sustainable products with our ingredients.”
Almond Trail sets out ambitious targets for water stewardship, carbon reduction and support for communities and ecosystems, including a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with achieving a 1.5˚C pathway.
By 2030, ofi is committing to a broad range of almond-related targets, including: · Increase irrigation distribution uniformity to 90%+ on all orchards
· Reduce absolute scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions in line with achieving a 1.5˚C pathway
· Offset 75% of total energy demand by purchasing renewable energy
· Achieve Bee Friendly certification across 100% of almond orchards
· Achieve annual cover cropping in 75% of all orchards.
Burcu Turkay, Global Sustainability Manager of ofi’s nuts platform said: “Innovation will be key to achieving these goals by using smart tech to track everything from tree growth to soil health. We’re working with several university partners to explore new research opportunities. For example, we’re looking at the potential of artificial intelligence in making data-driven decisions to optimise fertilisation and water use.
“We’re also using technology to measure our impact. We will track sustainability data through our insights platform, AtSource, helping us to monitor our progress and provide customers with a single view of their supply chain sustainability.
For instance, in 2020 we launched the “More Crop per Drop” trial, to better understand the behaviour of almond trees under different conditions. Using innovative technologies to track everything from tree growth to soil health helps us to understand and reduce our water footprint.”
Fiona Chambers, CEO of The Wheen Bee Foundation in Australia added that the organisation applauded ofi’s public recognition of the important role bees and other insects play in almond production, and the company’s dedication to creating healthy ecosystems and improving diversity.
In its view, the certification of 100% of its farms with the Bee Friendly Farming program would set a new standard for the almond industry, and other pollinator-reliant sectors across agriculture.