Sustainable development, as defined by the World Commission on Environment & Development in 1987, is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. To this end, manufacturers and ingredients suppliers throughout the world have been investing heavily and focusing on sustainable production with some interesting results.
National Starch Food Innovation’s next-generation emulsifier for beverages, Q-Naturale, is derived from the South American quillaia tree and is grown using sustainable agricultural practices, which help to reduce waste and protect the quillaia tree population.
“Market fluctuations affecting some traditional emulsifiers create unpredictability and pressure for beverage manufacturers,” said Stuart Wilson, business manager, delivery systems, National Starch Food Innovation Europe. “By offering superior natural emulsification, cost consistency and security of supply, Q-Naturale now enables the European beverage industry to protect its brands while ensuring outstanding quality.”
Q-Naturale is a high-performance, natural food additive for sparkling beverages, fortified waters and juices. It draws on the inherent functional properties of the quillaia tree to provide a natural alternative to other emulsifiers, and requires no dissolution or hydration. It can be added to existing manufacturing processes with no step changes, and offers valuable costs savings due to its efficacy and low concentrations.
Danisco claims to be the first food ingredient producer to offer its customers sustainable emulsifiers for binding oil and water emulsions. Based on sustainable palm oil or sustainable palm kernel oil sourced from Malaysia and Indonesia, the new emulsifiers are designed to meet the consumer demand for ethically correct goods.
“We’re especially pleased to offer sustainable emulsifiers,” said Martin Klavs Nielsen, executive vice president, emulsifiers, Danisco. “It’s a major product area for us and contributes to giving us a strong profile in the food industry. We focus on sustainability at all levels and this opens up new opportunities for our customers to meet consumer demand for sustainable foods.”
In Germany, for the sustainable production of fruit and vegetables, BASF has worked with the German retailer Rewe to create an eco-efficiency analysis that can be used to determine which apple offered by the supermarket performs better in terms of its cost and environmental impact.
The entire life cycle of the apple, from tree to shelf, is assessed and all the resources and materials involved are included in the assessment. Along with the energy and resource consumption emissions into the air, water and soil, BASF looks at the acreage required and the potential for toxicity and risk among other criteria.
On an analysis of Braeburn apples grown in Germany, Italy, New Zealand and Chile and Argentina, BASF found that although there was no difference in the apples grown in Germany or Italy, Braeburn apples purchased from further afield in April can actually perform better than their European counterparts in terms of their environmental impact.
Developed as part of Rewe’s ‘Best Alliance’ branding, BASF’s analysis method has been independently certified by the German Technical Inspection Organisation.
“A clear commitment to sustainable production within the ‘Best Alliance’ brand is an important and consistent step for Rewe,” said Guido Siebenmorgen, head of strategic purchasing of food in the Rewe Group. “It’s crucial to implement more comprehensible criteria in the sense of ecological and social responsibility.”
Meanwhile, one of Germany’s most popular dairy brands, Landliebe, will be selling all of its milk and school milk from cows raised exclusively on indigenous, sustainable feed. A new logo will be used on-pack to communicate to consumers about the initiative, which ties in with the sustainability policy of Campina, which produces the Landliebe products.
Further afield, in Costa Rica, bananas are set to be carbon neutral within four years. Corbana, the Costa Rican banana producers’ association, submitted a ‘Banana Industry Action Plan against Climate Change’ to Costa Rica’s Ministry of Environment & Energy at the end of 2008.
In the plan, the banana-producing industry intends to cut its net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2012. The plan includes an initial calculation of the overall level and source of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced by the industry in order to advise individual banana farms on what steps and measures they must take to offset these.
Once the emissions assessment is finalised, Corbana and the Banana Environment Commission will encourage producers to adopt several concrete measures including cutting back on the use of fossil fuels and fertilisers, implementing energy-saving programmes, and creating more carbon sinks through reforestation programmes.
“Corbana encourages growers to build carbon sinks through replanting schemes and to reduce the use of traditional pesticides and fertilisers,” said Jorge Sauma Aguilar, CEO of Corbana. “These two concrete measures have proved to be very successful in the past and are totally aligned with Costa Rica’s National Strategy for Climate Change.”
For more than 15 years, most of Costa Rica’s banana farms have carried out long-term reforestation projects in their plantations. The Action Plan was developed by the Banana Environment Commission, which was formed by companies such as Del Monte, Fyffes, Chiquita Brands and the Standard Fruit Company.
For a full article on Sustainability and the moves by leading players in the industry, see the February issue of Food & Beverage International
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