ofi sets new benchmark for the almond industry

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

ofi is shooting to achieve Bee Friendly certification across 100% of its almond orchards. Pic: GettyImages/maexico
ofi is shooting to achieve Bee Friendly certification across 100% of its almond orchards. Pic: GettyImages/maexico

Related tags Olam Food Ingredients Almonds bee friendly Greenhouse gas Sustainability ESG The Wheen Bee Foundation

The nut arm of global ingredients specialist has announced its first sustainability targets for its 50,000 acres of almond orchards and farming operations in Australia, the US and Vietnam.

According to olam food ingredients (ofi), as the plant-based movement gains momentum, almonds have become a popular ingredient in everything from protein powders to nut butters. But on the increase, too, is the eco-conscious consumers desire to know the impact their almond product is having on the planet.

ofi’s 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.

“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,”​ said Ashok Krishen, CEO of ofi’s nuts platform.

“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 pledge

By 2030, ofi is committing to a broad range of almond-related targets, including:

  • Increasing irrigation distribution uniformity to 90%+ on all orchards.
  • Reducing absolute scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions in line with achieving a 1.5˚C pathway.
  • Offsetting 75% of total energy demand by purchasing renewable energy.
  • Achieving Bee Friendly certification across 100% of almond orchards.
  • Achieving annual cover cropping in 75% of all orchards.

“Innovation will be key to achieving these goals by using smart tech to track everything from tree growth to soil health,”​ said Burcu Turkay, global sustainability manager of ofi’s nuts platform.

“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 fertilization and water use.”

New standard

Turkay added ofi measures its impact with the use of specialised tech.

“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,” ​she said.

“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.”

The Wheen Bee Foundation supports ofi’s move, noting a new benchmark has been set for the almond industry.

“We applaud 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,”​ said Fiona Chambers, CEO of the Australian non-profit.

“The certification of 100% of its farms with the Bee Friendly Farming programme would set a new standard for the almond industry, and other pollinator-reliant sectors across agriculture.

“ofi has shown great leadership in its commitment to increasing pollinator habitats and foraging crops, and balancing the risks related to pest management with pollinator welfare front of mind, as part of its 2030 goals. The company’s partnerships with universities, almond boards and other related organisations will ensure best-practice pollinator management techniques are employed across the supply chain.”

ofi produces sustainable, value-added products and ingredients for the cocoa, coffee, dairy, nuts and spices industries. The company has built a unique global value chain presence from farm to factory, partnering with customers and leveraging its portfolio to co-create solutions that anticipate and meet changing consumer preferences.

The business is part of the Olam Group, a leading food and agri-business supplying over 20,000 customers in 60 countries. Headquartered and listed in Singapore, the group has been included in the FTSE4Good Index Series since 2020.

Related topics Commodities Sustainability

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