California Giant Berry Farms Introduces Sustainability Initiative
WATSONVILLE, CA - Consumers aren’t the only ones looking to be more environmentally friendly, with companies like California Giant Berry Farms making major sustainability strides. This year, the berry company is introducing a new sustainability initiative to not only be more conscientious of the environment, but also to increase efficiencies and profitability, reduce costs, and engage employees.
“This is a path we see the industry as a whole taking, and it’s one we are proud to be involved in,” said Nick Chappell, California Giant’s Director of Retail Sales. "When we heard from some of our key customers that increased on-farm sustainability and social accountability was something they wanted to see more of from their top berry suppliers, we listened and got to work. But not only that, we were eager to pave our own unique sustainability path with Measure to Improve.”
According to a press release, the conversation of sustainability first began over a year ago when California Giant met with Nikki Rodoni, CEO of Measure to Improve—a company with a vision to assist companies in the produce industry by providing tools, benchmarks, and guidance in documenting successes as they work towards sustainability and, ultimately, translating economic and environmental benefits between sellers and buyers.
California Giant’s new sustainability initiatives will focus on three key pillars—People (socially equitable), Planet (environmentally sound), and Profit (economically viable)—and will include an on-farm sustainability program with long-time strawberry grower Rich Uto to develop a how-to guide for its entire farming community; an energy efficiency project at its cooling facilities; and a zero-waste program at its headquarters. To hone in on the three P’s, implement these initiatives, and ensure all aspects of sustainable ag are being met as the company works toward being one of Zero Waste, California Giant plans to incentivize its employees during routine benchmarks and progress assessments.
“It’s not necessarily about ‘being green,’ it’s about being smart,” said Founder of California Giant’s internal ‘Green Team’ and Food Safety Manger Eric Valenzuela. “It’s about ensuring our employees are happy, ensuring we’re producing the best berries as efficiently as we can, and protecting our planet and future generations. We have started this sustainability journey, and it’s up to us to follow through and pave the way for others in the industry. We want to be better at being sustainable, not just in one category—but every category.”
The Green Team that Valenzuela leads consists of various employees from diverse departments, with each team member taking responsibility for representing the company’s sustainability efforts and serving as advocates to educate and encourage employees on recycling, zero-waste programs, and the California Giant Measure to Improve story. This includes meeting monthly to discuss progress, data and findings, and improvement for the future, according to a press release.
“Giving back to our community is part of the California Giant mission—it’s what we do on a year-round basis through various philanthropic endeavors,” says Valenzuela. “This is just another way we plan to give back to our communities. We strive to deliver quality berries, food-safe berries, and sustainable berries by using less water, energy and resources, while producing the same flavor and freshness our customers can count on.”
The produce industry prides itself on its dedication to giving back to its community, and California Giant Berry Farms is showcasing this in flying colors. With the goal of becoming fully sustainable by the end of 2019, how else will California Giant set the produce bar this year? AndNowUKnow will continue to bring you the freshest produce news.