Lindsay Watts, RDN
Health professionals care deeply about personal health and well-being. Most of us went into our fields to help others. However, health and well-being is about more than eating well and exercising. It is also about creating sustainable food systems and managing our resources so that future generations can live well and prosper.
I’ve been on my own personal sustainability journey, starting with reducing food waste, but I am only one, small piece at the end of the food supply. Before food makes it into my kitchen, it has to be grown, harvested, often combined with other ingredients, then packaged, shipped and sold. Farmers, manufacturers, and distributors play a significant role in creating a more sustainable food system. I reached out to some of our sustainability pros at Campbell to learn more about how the food system can be more sustainable before it gets to my kitchen.
Real Food has Roots—Sustainable Growing
Companies are trying to grow food more sustainably by engaging their supply chain, not just immediate suppliers but their suppliers’ suppliers (often farmers) to reduce the environmental impact of how crops are grown. “At Campbell, protecting our natural resources is a key tenet of our Sustainable Agriculture program. Not only is it something that consumers demand, but it is also important for building long-term resiliency,” says Andrea Chu sustainable agricultural analyst at Campbell.
According to Chu, this can be accomplished through a combination of collaborations, certification programs, and investing in innovation and agricultural technologies that conserve resources and produce food more efficiently.
For example, Campbell reduced greenhouse gas emissions and water usage by 20% per tonne of tomatoes since 2012 by helping their tomato growers adopt more efficient technologies, including drip irrigation. Meeting external commitments requires that Campbell work with suppliers and growers to drive sustainable practices on farms.
Transparency Builds Trust – Responsibly Sourced
Companies need to make sure that the ingredients they use are responsibly sourced. This means ensuring that ethical and sustainable practices are used across the entire supply chain. Last year, we announced our commitment to only source no-antibiotics-ever chicken meat for our products in the U.S. and Canada and are already at 98% completion. This year, we focused on setting goals that will bring stakeholders on our responsible sourcing journey. Our goals to responsibly source 100% of our key ingredients by 2025 and to ensure their traceability to country of origin are published in this year’s Corporate Responsibility Report and we will report our progress against those goals annually.
Creating a sustainable food system comes with its fair share of challenges. Chu and Niki King, director of responsible sourcing, agree that the greatest challenge in sourcing and growing foods is their traceability. On a larger scale, food often passes through many hands before making it to the manufacturer or consumer. Each of those steps are important to assess for sustainability.
Real Food is Prepared with Care – Sustainably Produced
Food production depends on natural resources including water, energy, livestock and crops. Companies need to be good stewards of these resources and manage waste to be more sustainable. “The tried and true way to produce food more sustainably is to set public goals and measure progress,” says Melissa Donnelly, manager of sustainability integration and metrics. These commitments include reducing greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, water use, and food waste.
Reducing the environmental impacts of food production can be complex. Production processes vary depending on the type of food. Different geographies also present unique challenges, including how we source water and distribute energy. Campbell began this journey many years ago and developed strategies to address these challenges, resulting in more sustainable practices. “We continue to innovate and our newest sustainability commitments will push us to even greater reductions in our footprint,” said Donnelly.
Sustainability is a top concern for many people and is an important part of health and well-being. I started taking a harder look at my own energy use and food waste and realized how difficult it can be to change this behavior. Campbell’s large-scale efforts inspire me to do better at home. Learn more about how Campbell manages resources, and informs consumers about their food at www.whatsinmyfood.com and UnCanned by Campbell’s.
Lindsay’s BioLindsay is a nutrition communications analyst at the Campbell Soup Company where she coordinates health professional and consumer communications. She also works with internal and external partners on retail health and wellness programs. Prior to her role at Campbell, Lindsay worked as an in-store retail dietitian. She received her Bachelors of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from West Chester University and completed her dietetic internship with Pennsylvania State University. Currently, Lindsay is studying for her masters of science in Health Communications and Marketing with Boston University.