McCain promotes regenerative agriculture as key to sustainable food production20 Mar 2023
The world’s largest manufacturer of frozen potato products, McCain, has released its sustainability report from last year. It highlights progress towards global sustainability goals including accelerating the adoption of regenerative agricultural practices, mitigating climate impact with a 50% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 and expanding healthier food offerings.
The frozen foods giant’s latest sustainability report describes emerging from Covid-19 to managing “the fragility of global food systems” in the face of last year’s climate crises and supply chain disruptions caused by the Ukraine war.
From addressing its role in making food systems more sustainable and resilient to tackling present and future challenges, the company points to improving soil health, increasing water quality, and protecting biodiversity to build farmer resilience to climactic and economic shocks.
Creating a sustainable future for food
“At McCain, sustainability goes to the heart of our purpose as a business. That purpose is to celebrate real connections through delicious, planet-friendly food, which means putting agronomy at the forefront of all we do to ensure healthier soils which lead to more sustainably sourced food,” said Max Koeune, president and CEO of McCain Foods.
“It means reducing our climate impact and supporting the communities where we operate. By delivering on our purpose and commitments, we aim to grow our business while helping to strengthen food and agricultural systems for a more sustainable future.”
As part of McCain’s commitment to sustainability, the report was conducted in accordance with Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards, an independent organisation that helps businesses take responsibility for their environmental impact and aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Within the report, McCain’s sustainability goals are divided into four “strategic pillars and focus areas” including smart and sustainable farming, resource efficient operations, good food, and thriving communities. However, a primary concern, according to the company, is accelerating the adoption of regenerative agricultural practices and committing to implementing regenerative agriculture practices across 100% of its potato acreage by 2030.
“At McCain, taking action means being smart and sustainable in the way we grow our raw agricultural ingredients and produce our products. It’s a process that starts with the soil and our commitment to regenerative agriculture. Healthy soils capture and store carbon, prevent floods, filter water, protect against drought and nourish the crops that feed us. The shift to regenerative farming is the key to our future, and our growers are at the heart of this transition,” said the authors of the report.
Milestones achieved in 2022
In June 2022, it launched Farm of the Future Africa in Lichtenburg, South Africa, in line with McCain’s target of developing three commercially operated farms across three regions by 2025. The farm will showcase and trial new regenerative agriculture practices with learnings particularly in soil management, ecosystem biodiversity, water use, and input efficiency to be scaled globally.
The food manufacturer said it has reduced its environmental footprint with renewable electricity use increased by 18.5% and achieved a 17% improvement in water-use efficiency across seven priority sites, achieving this target three years ahead of schedule.
It has also removed sodium reduction and artificial ingredients in a number of key products, following the goal to reduce sodium by 15% in potatoes and appetizers by 2025.
Plant-based product innovations through partnerships with brands and organisations such as Strong Roots, The Simple Root, and GoodLeaf are fulfilling consumer demand for healthier food products, it said.
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