What is ofi’s mission statement?
“Our purpose is to be the change for good food and a healthy future. In other words, to source, grow and produce cocoa, coffee, dairy, nut, and spice ingredients that are good for consumers, farmers, and the world around us, supported by collaboration with customers and our sustainability partners.
“Farmers in our sustainability programmes benefit from support on knowledge, inputs, and credit to get the best possible value from their crop. Our teams around the world have grown relationships in farming communities for many years. Meaning we can offer ingredients that combine provenance and sustainability impact with on-trend food applications to help our customers differentiate and grow.”
To what extent is consumer demand driving sustainable practices?
“It’s been incredibly encouraging to see changing consumer preferences as demand increases for food that is not only tasty, but more nutritious, ethically sourced, and right for the planet. At the end of 2021, Innova revealed that the health of the planet overtook health of people as consumers’ top priority and is likely a key factor behind why many brands made changes to become more sustainable.
“Helping our customers meet this demand is one of the reasons why we’ve invested in sustainability insights tools like AtSource. The granularity of the data provides a window into the social and environmental footprints of our ingredients, specific to each customer’s supply chain. This insight informs where further interventions are required and presents opportunities to customers to work with us to explore and create action plans with us to drive improvement.”
How are you helping food and beverage manufacturers reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their supply chains?
“Calculating our scope three emissions from agriculture and land use, which make up the vast majority of our carbon footprint, is a hugely complex task. To help tackle this, we worked with cutting-edge climate footprinting experts to build a comprehensive, bespoke digital footprint calculator on AtSource+ and are now trialling our carbon scenario planner with customers. It allows us to model the outcome of different decarbonisation interventions so we can better plan and cost the climate action required by our customers to make a real impact and meet our respective climate commitments.”
What sustainable agricultural practices are you promoting and pioneering?
“There’s no silver bullet here. Every crop and every farm is different. Last year, ofi’s in-country field teams provided support in the form of training, inputs, finance, and other farming services to over 425,000 farmers across our global sourcing network, helping them to improve yields and quality, maximise their return on effort and investment, and diversify economic opportunities.
“At the other end of the scale, on our highly mechanized orchards in the US, our almond teams are working with the University of California, Davis to explore the use of artificial intelligence to optimise fertilisation and water use, make smart data-driven decisions and maximize almond yields.
“Given the urgency of the climate crisis, we’re also strongly focused on understanding the practical measures required to reduce the emissions intensity of crop production, including residue and wastewater management, low- and no-till farming, using organic fertilisers, mulching and soil protection, and storing more carbon on-farm both by improving soil health and planting beneficial trees.
“Beyond the farmgate, we are setting out a decarbonisation roadmap for all ofi primary processing facilities which include those producing our cocoa powders, butters, and liquors, soluble coffee, and powdered milk products. To help minimise our emissions and increase the share of renewable energy, we’re installing biomass boilers in many of our facilities powered by waste coffee grounds, cocoa and nut shells, fitting solar panels in selected sites, and switching to green grid energy where available.”
Could you focus on one of your ingredients and take me through the supply chain?
“We can work with our customers on sustainable innovation. For example, if they’re looking to co-create a snack bar made with cocoa liquor and cocoa butter, slivered almonds, and hazelnut paste, or a frappé made with cocoa powder, almond milk, and coffee powder that come with documented traceability, then our chefs, innovation, and sustainability teams join forces to match the right flavour, with the right origin and sustainability programme.
“We could source the almonds from our orchards in California where our teams on the ground are investing in state-of-the-art irrigation systems and creating pollinator habitats. The almonds are then sent to our local processing facility that’s equipped to supply tailored solutions from whole nuts to ingredients. The beans for the coffee powder might come from the farmers we work with in Peru as part of a circular coffee partnership involving a major coffee roaster, Solidaridad, SERFOR and Cooperative Cuencas de Hullega.
“The way our teams on the ground manage these supply chains is further exemplified in our dedicated product sustainability strategies which include: Almond Trail, Coffee LENS, and Cocoa Compass. And with the data and footprinting calculator on AtSource+, the customer can see the social impact and carbon emissions for each of their ingredients, and then calculate the overall footprint of their product.”
What do you hope attendees take away from your participation as the official sustainability sponsor at Fi Europe?
“We all have the power to make a positive impact on the world around us. Our industry is uniquely placed to benefit people’s health, farmer’s livelihoods, and the environment. Every choice we make as consumers has a very real impact and because of that, we all need to better understand where our ingredients come from, how they were grown, and what impact they have on their local environments.
“We’re applying many solutions around the world to decarbonise our supply chains, regenerate farming landscapes, and improve livelihoods, but we can’t do it alone. The scale of the sector’s most intractable challenges mean solutions must be delivered through multi-stakeholder collaboration. And partners need transparency and robust evidence of the impact of their actions and investments.
“ofi has the on-the-ground expertise and tools to build impact through supportive partnerships with customers and sustainability partners, and AtSource provides an incredible range of insights on impact and progress. So, we look forward to hearing and learning from others at Fi Europe, and to plan together how to solve our common challenges. Don’t forget to visit us on our stand to sample some of our fresh ideas and ingredient solutions, such as organic vegan brownies and almond protein balls!”