Name: Emily O’Halloran, Global Impact & Sustainability, Senior Analyst at Ocean Spray Cranberries
and Jennifer Bowe, Head of Global Impact & Sustainability, Ocean Spray Cranberries
Company: OceanSpray Cranberries
Connect with Emily O’Halloran on LinkedIn
Connect with Jennifer Bowe on LinkedIn
Welcome to our series aimed at spotlighting the individual leaders within BIER member companies and stakeholder organizations. Learn how these practitioners and their companies are addressing pressing challenges around water, energy, agriculture, climate change, and what inspires each of them to advance environmental sustainability in the beverage sector and collectively, overall.
You recently shared a remarkable achievement at Ocean Spray. You are the first major fruit cooperative worldwide to achieve 100% sustainably grown verification for your cranberries through the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform’s (SAI Platform) Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA). What were the drivers that inspired you to reach this goal?
Jennifer: To begin, it’s important to remember that Ocean Spray is a farmer-owned co-operative. Farmers are really our investors. Given that, we do not have public investors driving our sustainability agenda, compared to some other companies that are in the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) network. However, the cooperative of farmers really relies on the company to market its fruit and crop. Our sustainable agriculture and verification program allows us to not only meet very specific customer demand for verified, sustainably grown fruit, it also adds to Ocean Spray’s broader mission of connecting our farms to families for a better life.
In essence, the program provided an opportunity to document the good work that Ocean Spray farmers were already doing and present it in a meaningful way. As an example, sustainably growing our primary ingredient is a component of our broader communication story.
A good part of the work for the verification involved assessing our performance against the platform requirements. It wasn’t far into the process that we realized we could actually score well based on existing growing methods. So, we underwent the whole process to really document the practices our farmers use to grow their cranberries to give them credit where credit is due. Basically, the drivers of this program were the overall customer interest and more effectively communicating how our commitment to sustainability is embedded within our daily actions.
Emily: Yes, it's really about being able to tell our story in a way that is meaningful and impactful. As you know, we can tell the story about how cranberries are grown and the good practices that our farmers are using. But it's more meaningful to have somebody who's independent, that has no stake in the game, to come in and say, “Yeah, I agree, this is a great story to tell!” So, this program is a way for us to amplify that message for our farmer-owners.
Also, because verification or certification of sustainably grown fruit is becoming more and more popular, we’re having more conversations with a variety of stakeholders. Most recently we visited with our European – business partners about how to tell and share this information so it accurately reflects not only this achievement but also how it can funnel up to our customers’, sustainable supply chain goals.
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KEYWORDS: Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER), Ocean Spray Cranberries, sustainability