The largest U.S. producer of organic berries, Driscoll’s Inc., said it has joined the Ceres-WWF AgWater Challenge. as part of an effort to reduce its water impacts with a 2025 goal of having its 700 grower/suppliers adopt best management practices to reduce crop impact on local water resources.
Also the world’s largest berry company, Watsonville, Calif.-based Driscoll’s is a fourth-generation family business, controlling about 33 percent of the $6 billion U.S. berry market, including 60 percent of organic strawberries.
The company, which is supplied by a network of more than 700 independent growers, said 80 percent of its acreage globally is located in California, where drought conditions have persisted for most of the past decade, and Mexico. Both are prime berry growing regions located in areas of high water stress.
The global food sector uses 70 percent of the world’s freshwater supply, which is threatened by the combined effects of climate change, pollution and mismanagement. By 2025, half the world’s population will live in water stressed areas.
Ceres and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) launched the AgWater Challenge in 2016 to encourage better and more strategic water stewardship among the biggest food and beverage companies.
As part of its AgWater Challenge commitment, Driscoll’s said that by the end of 2020, each high-risk sourcing region will identify key water impacts and set new goals to reduce them. The plan is to have water risk assessments for all existing and new growing regions in the Americas completed and integrated into the company’s fruit supply planning process by end of 2021.
The company said examples of potential action include adoption of irrigation efficiency technology, incorporation of recycled water, elimination of non-storm tail-water, incorporation of brine discharge best management practices (BMPs), and increased use of irrigation scheduling technology.
Check out Driscoll’s AgWater Challenge commitment here.
Driscoll’s joins eight existing AgWater Challenge participants, including Danone, PepsiCo, Hormel, General Mills, Kelloggs, Target, Archer Daniels Midland, and Diageo, representing over $264 billion in annual revenue.
As members of the AgWater Challenge, the nine companies met certain criteria in five areas of water stewardship:
- Assess water risks in key agricultural sourcing regions
- Set sustainable agriculture policies that address water risks
- Set time-bound goals to reduce water impacts of key crops
- Support farmers to steward water resources
- Collaborate at the watershed level to protect resources in high-risk areas
Check out the criteria of the five areas here.