Global food processing company Danone has committed to a company-wide 50 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030, and implementing sustainable agricultural practices – such as managing water resources, preserving and improving soil quality, protecting biodiversity and capturing carbon as well as reducing emissions across its supply chains. In this project, fruit buyers from Danone wanted to secure their supply chain through less carbon emissions, chemicals and additives.
EIT Climate-KIC partner INRA asked EIT Climate-KIC and Italian biometeorology institute IBIMET, to lead a consortium for this. Work is focused on reducing GHG emissions from the production of strawberries and apples, Danone’s two most important fresh fruit ingredients. The project informs new supplier guidelines for climate-smart fruit production, pest resistance, genomics and soil management. It has identified practices for demonstration including using organic by-products such as municipal compost, wood chips and shredded paper as a mulch to reduce the need for artificial fertilisers as well as sequestering more carbon in the soil.
The project has also introduced newly developed, pest-resistant and high-performing varieties of fruit, mechanical weeding systems to reduce herbicide usage. Water use has been made more efficient through internet-connected sensors in the soil to monitor watering.
The project is now identifying key areas of best practice and is moving to demonstrator phase in which selected best-practices will be piloted at trial sites in Morocco and the Czech Republic supported by CSAb. Apple and strawberry production sites in the Czech Republic and Morocco will be demonstrated in 2017/18.
The project has initial stakeholder reach of 6,700 farmers in 48 cooperatives, managing 17,000 ha of horticulture, 91 processing plants and 1 million tonnes of fruit produced per year. The group also hopes to share much of this best-practice and extend the successful application of these practices to other producers and companies across Europe. EIT Climate-KIC is already in discussion with other food processing firms and food retailers interested in joining the project.
EIT Climate-KIC’s Role
EIT Climate-KIC’s CSA Booster flagship provided funding and an expert network to bring additional project partners together and to get the ball rolling. It also acted as a key bridge between the ideas incubated in research labs and their real-world application.