New Citrus Sustainability Push in Florida

Josh McGillEvents, Florida, Orange Juice

Sustainability has been a buzzword in agriculture for years, often with varying definitions of what the term means. In recent years, many industries have adopted self-assessment tools to monitor their sustainability and report their results to their customers. Much of this monitoring and reporting is being done via online platforms.

During Florida Citrus Mutual’s board of directors meeting held during the Florida Citrus Industry Annual Conference, attendees learned more about how these programs work. They also learned that a citrus sustainability push is underway for Florida orange juice.

The 2022 Florida Citrus Industry Annual Conference drew a large crowd eager to learn and network after two years of being sidelined by COVID-19.

The Florida Orange Sustainability Accelerator has been in the works for nearly two years. The major juice brands are driving the effort. Orange juice consumers, who are asking for more transparency on how sustainable orange production is in Florida, are influencing the brands.

The initiative is utilizing SAI Platform to create an online farm sustainability assessment (FSA) tool that growers can use to prove their production is environmentally sound and employee treatment is fair. SAI Platform is a non-profit organization the works with agriculture from growers through the supply chain to consumers to demonstrate sustainable practices.

While this sort of monitoring might sound invasive, Lexi Clark, an SAI Platform representative, told board members and attendees the good news is most growers already are doing things that would score well with the FSA tool. She said the FSA is a marketing tool to prove Florida juice is sustainable.

“We started a working group about a year and half ago to help build knowledge about sustainability among growers,” Clark said. “We wanted to be sure the farm self-assessment tool that SAI Platform puts together makes sense for citrus growers and demonstrates the relevance of sustainability practices that are already underway. The platform is a great way for growers to prove to consumers that they are doing these sustainable practices.”

SAI Platform will continue to work with industry and growers to develop the program in the coming year.

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