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Thoughts from category: fruit

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.

Considering Clementines

Clementines and mandarins. Both small, both orange, both delicious. Both excellent for pretending you’re a giant holding a regular sized orange. And now both blended together in our new clementine and mandarin juice. It just made sense.

Here at innocent, we have a dedicated team of people who travel around the world selecting the cream of the fruit crop for our drinks, whilst making sure it’s all sourced sustainably. A few months back, we asked the team to find us some clementines and mandarins to squeeze into our new recipe. Always up for a challenge, our George and Robin headed off to sunshiney Spain to find the very best clementines and mandarins the country had to offer.

 

While they were there, they discovered that Spanish farmers actually call clementines the ‘king of the mandarins’ because of its sweet taste and general deliciousness. We tasted them and had to agree, which is why we always make sure that our juice is 80% clementine.

George and Robin also went to look in on some research that is currently being conducted into how the clementine harvesting window could be extended. The picture below shows a farm at the research facility where they are attempting to cross pollinate different varieties in order to create a clementine that could be harvested in either October or March.

 

They haven’t quite cracked it yet, but we’ll be sure to let you know when they do.

In the meantime, we think it’s about clemen-time you gave our juice a go. Sorry. But not that sorry.

a visit to our mango farms

Our Sustainability Advisor Charlotte went to India recently to visit some of our mango farmers and see for herself the results of a project we're running which is helping our farmers to protect their yields from the effects of climate change. Here's the story of her trip:

Hubli Charvran is a calm, meditative farmer who has been farming his 25-acre mango orchard on the western coast of India for over 15 years. Hubli is one of our mango suppliers; we use his mangoes in our smoothies and juices. I went out to visit and to see first-hand what Hubli is doing to make sure his farm is as sustainable and productive as possible, and to make a little film about it.

Hubli, one of our mango farmers

A few years ago, we’d visited our mango farmers and found that they were struggling with lower mango yields due to the combined effects of climate change and poor farming practices. Climate change is causing higher temperatures and more erratic monsoons. When we saw how it was directly affecting our farmers, we started a project in partnership with the University of Konkan to improve things. We wanted to find sustainable ways to make the trees as strong and resilient as possible, so that they can still produce high mango yields despite the changing climate. The project was called the 5 Point Agriculture Project, because there are 5 stages involved in strengthening the trees, and Hubli joined the project a few years ago.

As well as making the film, I also went to India to meet up with some organisations who may be able to help us with the next phase of the project, and to conduct routine assessments of some of our mango farms against our innocent sustainable agriculture standards.

After a 15-hour journey I arrived at Goa airport at 6am local time, where it was already a sweltering 35 degrees. The roads were already packed with chaotic traffic, the hoots of car horns echoing around everywhere. At the airport I met Budhwant, my guide. Budhwant was hilarious. Mad about mangoes (he eats mangoes all the time, from morning until night, and even has mango-flavoured car sweets), he was an avid font of knowledge about all different types of trees, pointing out all the different species we passed during our 5-hour car journey, and stopping regularly to pick up fruits from the side of the road so I could taste them. Unfortunately Budhwant’s driving wasn’t as impressive as his tree knowledge. Let’s just say it was an interesting 5 hours… That afternoon I had a good meeting with one of our mango suppliers, followed by two of the most delicious curries I’ve ever tasted. 

On my second morning in India I headed straight out to the farms. The farmers and their families were incredibly warm and welcoming, and were happy to show me everything and answer all of my questions. They plied me with fresh coconut juice and freshly picked mangoes still warm from the sun. It was an unforgettable day. The farmers were all really excited about the results of the project: the trees that had been cared for using the 5 point plan regime had started to produce 25% more mangoes and higher quality fruit, compared to trees that had been managed in the traditional way. Since the mangoes had only just ripened, I was lucky enough to see the difference for myself – I was surprised how obvious it was which trees had been involved in our project: they looked much healthier, and had many more mangoes.

At the end of Day 2 I was joined by Jim and Kev, who’d be helping me to make the film. There was a bit of panic when they turned up without their camera equipment, which had gone AWOL in transit, but miraculously it all turned up 6 hours later.

We spent two days making the film, which may seem a bit excessive seeing as it’s only one minute long, but there was simply so much to say and so much beauty and interest to try and capture that we hardly stopped at all. We spent both days at the farms involved in the 5 point project, starting at dawn and finishing after sunset in order to make the most of the best light. I’m not a film-maker and I’d never heard of the ‘golden hour’, or appreciated the benefits of filming in this soft evening light, when the golden sunshine dapples through the trees and the shadows disperse. But Jim and Kev were fanatical about it, insisting that Budhwant drove us around to find the best spot. They even clambered up a half-constructed five storey building via bamboo ladders to get a good view of the sunset from the top (don’t try this at home). The madness paid off, though, because the sunsets on the west coast of India are truly breathtaking, and we got some incredible footage.

an Indian sunset

Hubli is now an ambassador for the 5 point agriculture project. He was so impressed with the results on his own farm that he’s now an advocate for the importance of farming in harmony with nature, working with natural forces rather than against them. His knowledge about how to create the best organic compost, natural pest control measures and clay pot irrigation kept me captivated all day long. And his words of wisdom about the importance of slowing down the pace of life, following your hopes and dreams, and adopting Buddhist philosophies affected Jim, Kev and I very profoundly. (As did the copious amounts of fresh coconut water.)

Our guide Budhwant wasn’t particularly interested in these conversations, though. Instead he was busy thinking about where he could buy his next box of fresh mangoes. By the end of our trip, Budhwant had bought 72 mangoes, and there was barely any room left in the car for our filming equipment.

You can watch the film we made here, I hope you like it: