Category Archives: Sustainability

Pristine Peru: Growing demand for organics creates new opportunities for farmers

South America

South America

Peru, a small country on the northwest coast of South America, is known by many as the home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Maccu Picchu, or the birthplace of America’s beloved vegetable, the potato.  If you’re a foodie, you’re probably aware of the soaring popularity Peruvian cuisine is having on restaurant menus around the U.S.  However, what we find most exciting about Peru is the pristine countryside where farmers have been growing organically for generations.

Click on the image to read more about Peru's organic agriculture in this white paper.

Click on the image to read more about Peru’s organic agriculture in this white paper.

While Peru has no shortage of organic farmers, many of them struggle with the infrastructure needed to sell their crop for its true value.  This is where High Quality Organics comes in.  We’ve been able to help our Peruvian farmers not only gain market access to the U.S. but we’ve assisted with critical success factors like access to organic certification or certified organic seed. Our partnerships with our Peruvian farmers have truly gone beyond simple transactions and become transformational, allowing them to grow their business and better support their communities while increasing our supply capabilities.  It’s an exciting time for Peru’s organic agriculture sector and we couldn’t be prouder to be a part of it. Below are a few highlights from a recent trip our Vice President of Supply Chain, Toby Eck, took in June.

A blossoming organic chia seed field in Peru. Chia seed is an ancient seed growing in popularity for its heart-healthy omega-3 is used in baking, granola bars, smoothies and more.

A blossoming organic chia seed field in Peru. Chia seed is an ancient seed growing in popularity for its heart-healthy omega-3 is used in baking, granola bars, smoothies and more.

Here an organic farmer we've been working with is digging up a ginger sample in a sandy field. He is successfully growing many different crops using above-ground nutrition-irrigation system.  This has transformed a completely agriculturally-useless region into vast fields of sustainably produced organic products.

Here an organic farmer we’ve been working with is digging up a ginger sample in a sandy field. He is successfully growing many different crops using above-ground nutrition-irrigation system. This has transformed a completely agriculturally-useless region into vast fields of sustainably produced organic products.

This picture shows just-picked paprika air-drying alongside a field. Not needing to transport or machine dry the paprika provides significant savings for the farmer.

This picture shows just-picked paprika air-drying alongside a field. Not needing to transport or machine-dry the paprika provides significant savings for the farmer.

This is one of HQO's partners of three years, Santiago.  He's a first generation farmer that developed a passion for organic agriculture while in college.  He has not only brought an abundance of agriculture to an otherwise barren area, but he is providing employment to several people in a very poor region of Peru. He grows jalapeño, paprika and more for HQO.

This is one of HQO’s partners of three years, Santiago. He’s a first generation farmer that developed a passion for organic agriculture while in college. He has not only brought an abundance of agriculture to an otherwise barren area, but he is providing employment to several people in a very poor region of Peru. He grows jalapeño, paprika and more for HQO.

Here's a great example of the innovative spirit of so many of our partners.  This is a sand field that can produce high-quality organic agriculture by the above-ground irrigation and nutrient distribution system.  This type of production agriculture is critical for food insecure places like the barren lands in remote Peru or Egypt.

Here’s a great example of the innovative spirit of our HQO partners. This is a sand field that can produce high-quality organic agriculture thanks to the above-ground irrigation and nutrient distribution system. This type of production agriculture is critical for food insecure places like the barren lands in remote Peru or Egypt.

To learn more about High Quality Organics and the organic ingredients we supply  from Peru and the other 30+ countries we work with, please contact us on our website, www.HQOrganics.com.

Takeaways from the 2013 Sustainable Foods Summit Europe

Sustainable Foods Summit AmbersterdamOrganic Monitor hosted the annual Sustainable Foods Summit Europe in Amsterdam in June. Given HQO’s global presence, our CEO, Raju Boligala, always attends. He not only gathers the latest insights on the issues that are top-of-mind in Europe, but he is often asked to speak or moderate a panel. Raju always enjoys this important dialogue with our global ‘neighbors’ and came back with the following takeaways. But first, a top-line look at the growth the global organic and Fair Trade industry are achieving. (Source: Organic Monitor.)

Global Organic Industry
Market Size (2011) $62.8 billion
Market Growth: 6% (YOY) & 172% since 2002 
 
Global Fair Trade Industry
Market Size (2011) $6.6 billion
Market Growth 12$ (YOY) & 206% since 2006
 

2013_6_Raju at Sustainable Summit Europe1. Addressing the sustainability challenge while ensuring all stakeholders are taken care of.

As the global organic industry continues to grow, it experiences new challenges. One of the biggest messages this year was the importance of maintaining sustainability for all stakeholders: from the communities where the product is grown or manufactured to the generations to come who will be relying on the land or water resources we utilize.

2.  Sustainable foods in urban cities

We have several challenges caused by our current food and agriculture industry according to the presentations by Food Cycle, a charity using unwanted food (potential food waste) and volunteers to provide delicious meals for those in need, and Sustainable Food Cities, a non-profit working to create food secure cities with the collaboration of health, food, government, academic, community and charitable organizations.

– An epidemic of diet-related diseases impacting our population meaning our children may become the first generation to live shorter lives than their parents.

– Food poverty affects more than ¼ of all people on the planet (15% in the U.S. according to the U.S. Poverty Report 2012).

– Food and farming is responsible for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions and is contributing to a decline in the quality or our soils, water and biodiversity.

– We throw away 50% of all the food we produce.

– Most farmers earn less than minimum wage and food workers consistently receive lower than average wages.

– We have an abundance of low-nutrient food made in an unsustainable model

– Food is a powerful vessel to not only enrich the environment and economy but improve the health and vitality of the community.  By improving the entire system – from the soil to the supper plate – we can make monumental change.

3.  Management of sustainable products in retailing

The Delhaize Group spoke about the importance of improving sustainability throughout the supply chain as it relates to retail products.  Some of the key points were:

– Developing more intimate relationships with producers

– Bringing consumers closer to farmers

– Creating closer relationships with community

– Reducing food waste

– Partnering with environmental organizations to develop sustainable sourcing programs. (They partnered with the World Wildlife Fund to improve their seafood sourcing.)

– A major way to accomplish all of these tasks is through training: producers/supply chain, sales and marketing, buyers and consumers.

Raisio Water Footprint Product4.  Water and water footprint measurement in sustainability

The Raisio Group spoke about the new challenges and opportunities in measuring water usage.  They brought the first consumer product with a water footprint seal to market (click on the image to learn more) and have learned a lot in the process.  Some of their main points were:

– Quite frankly, consumers aren’t really thinking about the impact their consumption has on water resources.

– It’s extremely difficult to measure a product’s total water impact. For example, to measure water impact fairly, you can’t just measure water consumption but must also take into account the impact grey water has on the environment.

5.  Proliferation of eco labels

Organic Monitor has presented on a very important topic eco-confusion at both the American and European Sustainable Summits.  

Eco Confusion – 52% of Americans are overwhelmed by the environmental information provided on products. Yet there are over 400 registered environmental labels worldwide.  Consumers want environmental information from companies but don’t confuse them with five different seals on the package. Source: 2012 Cone Green Gap Trend Tracker

Eco Confusion – 52% of Americans are overwhelmed by the environmental information provided on products. Yet there are over 400 registered environmental labels worldwide. Consumers want environmental information from companies but don’t confuse them with five different seals on the package. Source: 2012 Cone Green Gap Trend Tracker

6.  Sustainable commodities

7.  Ancient grains and natural sweeteners

8.  Marketing claims and mislabels

9.  Social media and digital marketing – Well-respected speakers like the ow

Raju at Sustainable Foods Summit

HQO CEO, Raju Boligala, asks a question at the Sustainable Foods Summit Europe.

10.  Consumer insights on attitudes towards sustainable foods – 2/3 of consumers are consider the “middle green” – meaning they need to be educated and influenced to purchase sustainable products.  It was encouraged that sustainable food companies focus on marketing to this demographic, not the “dark green” consumer, who already searches out sustainable products.

It’s definitely an exciting time for the food and organic industry.

 
 

Top Sustainability Tip for April

This year instead of celebrating Earth Day on just April 22, we decided to celebrate it everyday in April with tips and ideas for ways we can all be a little kinder to Mother Earth on our Facebook page. Well, the results are in and the tip that was the most favorite was:

25percent_eco_facts_plastic_bag

 

We love the simplicity of this message and hope it resonates with you too.

What are you doing to be more sustainable in 2013?