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Thoughts from category: sustainability

we'd like to thank the academy

A couple of weeks back we told you we’d been nominated for a Guardian Sustainable Business Award for a project to reduce the amount of water used to grow our strawberries. This little film explains what the project was about:

We had our gracious loser face down to a fine art by the time we made our way to the ceremony, but, to our complete shock, we actually went and won the thing. No award is complete without an acceptance speech, so we’ve asked Jess, who leads our sustainability team, to say a few words:

“We are beyond thrilled to have won this award. We have been working with our Spanish farmers and the University of Cordoba for six and a half years to reduce the amount of water used in strawberry growing and, in doing so, protect the wetlands of the Doñana National Park. Our little project has grown from working with just four farmers, to now influencing the water management of 87% of all the strawberry farms (even though we only buy 1% of the strawberries grown on them.)  It proves that even if your idea starts small, if you find the right solution, and get everyone involved, you can make a big difference.  We are now sharing what we’ve learned with our berry farmers in Poland, and will see if we can use it with other fruits in the future too.”

The award itself is pretty special, and has taken pride of place on our Reception desk here in Fruit Towers:

 

As a business we’ve always wanted to leave things a bit better than we found them, so we’re really proud to be recognised for making a difference. We know there’s loads more we could do though, and we still have a long way to go before everything we do is award-worthy. We’ve got lots of exciting plans to get even greener in the next few years, so watch this space.

Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re off to the after party.

and the award goes to...maybe us

You shouldn’t really brag about awards you’ve been nominated for. If Hollywood film stars have taught us anything, it’s that when you get nominated for something you’re supposed to say things like, “I’m just in shock right now,” and “this is so unexpected,” and “it’s an honour just to be nominated.”

But as a business we’ve always wanted to leave things a bit better than we found them, so we’re going to put our modesty aside and proudly announce that we’ve been nominated for a Guardian Sustainable Business Award. We’ve been recognised for a project we’ve been working on to reduce the amount of water used to grow our strawberries in Spain. This little film explains what we’ve been up to:

All we have to do now is find something presentable to wear and head to the awards ceremony on the 26th May. We have no idea if we’re going to win, but we’ll be sure to let you know either way. And, whatever happens, we’re just in shock right now, this is so unexpected and it’s an honour just to be nominated. 

Mango go go

Our Catherine and Marta recently travelled to India to visit the people who supply our mangoes. As well as tasting the new season mangoes, this trip gave them the opportunity to see how our suppliers are getting on with our five point sustainability plan. The farmers in the region were struggling with lower mango yields so we started a project in partnership with the University of Konkan to address some of the challenges they were facing. We wanted to find sustainable ways to make the mango trees as strong and resilient as possible, so that they could still produce high mango yields despite the changing climate.

While they were out there, Catherine kept a travel log of some of things she and Marta got up to, and what they learned about our mangoes along the way:


Catherine's Log

As I’m quite new to the team, this was my first time going over to India and I was very excited to see the mango farms for myself and find out how everything worked. After an overnight flight, we landed in a very sticky but stunning Mumbai and started the long car journey to our first supplier (easily the bumpiest car ride I've ever been on). It was fascinating to drive into the country, away from the big cities, and see the real India. It was hot, hectic and just as colourful as I’d hoped it would be and the views from the window definitely made up for the bumps in the road.

When we arrived at our first supplier, we started learning about all the work they do with the farmers to improve yields and the new planting techniques they have been trying out, which they needed to implement in order to adapt to the changing climate affecting their fruit. The farms have now started experimenting with different planting, pruning and irrigation techniques. By keeping the trees smaller, the mangoes are easier to pluck and, therefore, the trees yield much more fruit.

 

The scenery was stunning as we drove to our next supplier – filled with lush tropical trees and greenery. When we arrived, we had a go at picking some mangoes ourselves as all of the mangoes on the farms are hand-plucked using a basket on the end of a stick. The equipment looks very simple, but is excellent at getting the job done. Here’s one of our pickers in action:

 

Once they've been picked, the mangoes are washed, placed into bowls, sorted, sent to be ripened and then turned into puree.

One of the most exciting moments of the trip was when we met the king of mangoes himself – the lovely Badrul, who stars in our British TV ads. He doesn’t speak English but we used a translator to tell him that we were really happy to meet him and that he was famous in the UK.

 

We reckon he should've been wearing this shirt when we made the ad (maybe one to consider for next time).

After visiting the suppliers, we’re chuffed to see that our sustainability plan is starting to make a real difference to the way the farmers in the region grow their fruit. We use mango in lots of our recipes (including this and this) and we really hope you think they’re as tasty as we do. 

Sourcing our strawberries

Strawberries. Whether they’re foraged at a pick-your-own, served with a side of cream at the tennis or crushed lovingly into our drinks, they’re pretty delicious. To make sure that only the finest fruit makes it into our recipes, our berry team travel to sunny Southern Spain every April to see for themselves how our fruit is grown.

 

After several years of buying Spanish strawberries, we’ve managed to build our very own innocent supply chain in the region. This ensures that only the farmers who grow their strawberries sustainably – the innocent approved growers - are able to supply the fruit for our drinks. 

For the last 5 years, we’ve been working with farmers in the region on a project to reduce the amount of water used to grow their strawberries.  The project has been so successful that we’re now sharing the findings with other farmers in the region, and have made a short film about it (which we’ll be sharing very soon).

We are very fussy about which strawberries make it into our drinks – we only use the very best and tastiest. We are so fussy that we even have a special label that our growers stick on the pallets to show which strawberries have the special innocent stamp of approval.

 

During their visit, the berry team look at lots of different areas of the strawberry growing and picking process; from the big stuff, such as making sure that workers have decent accommodation and food and water throughout the day, to making sure the trays that the strawberries are harvested into are super clean.

We will keep striving to make sure that our strawberries, and the people that grow them, are well taken care of because sourcing delicious fruit ethically is at the heart of the way we do things here at innocent (and always will be).

And at the end of a long day, it’s great to see we can source the best strawberries while working on protecting the environment too.

Water Savings Time

It’s World Water Day on Sunday, because water doesn’t get enough appreciation for keeping us all alive and clean and that. But it’s so great that we’re all using way too much of it, so we’ve come up with a few small things that you can do to help save the gallons:

10. Are you one of those people who gets accused of stalling when you leave the pans to soak after dinner instead of washing up straight away? Well, it’s actually much better than letting the tap run while you scrape the food off, so pop the telly on and get slacking.

9. Instead of building a swimming pool in your back garden, make the most of the facilities at your local leisure centre. They have floats, too. And the occasional plaster, but just ignore that.

8. Designate your water drinking glass for the day or use a refillable bottle. Saves on washing up. Nice.

7. Cook veg in less water. You don’t want to be known as the person who makes mushy broccoli you don’t have to chew anyway.

6. We have a grassy floor here in fruit towers. Never needs watering. Just saying.

5. Do you really need to wash that? You’ve only worn it once* (*not applicable to pants. Definitely wash those. Or at least turn them inside out).

4. Your chin/armpits/legs would look good with some extra insulation. Try not shaving for a while.

3. If your mind wanders during your shower and they’ve become a bit on the long side, try coming up with a few songs that, once you’ve sung them, you get out. Show tunes work particularly well.

2. Avoid recreational water toys. We’re looking at you Super Soaker.

1. Shower with a friend. Preferably a close friend, but anyone who’s willing will do.