Company/organization and country: Importaco SA, Spain
Type of project: Product development
SDG(s) relevant to the project: 2, 12, 13, 15
Topic(s): Nature-positive approaches and regenerative agriculture
Project end date and duration: 01/08/2022 (16 months)
Abstract: Importaco is an international food company specialized in the production of nuts and mineral water. It was founded in 1940 and is currently one of the largest producers of nuts and dried fruits in Europe and the second largest mineral water group in Spain.
Our corporate purpose is to improve people’s health and well-being, guaranteeing responsible production and consumption.
Our broad commitment to sustainability is embodied in our Green Company strategy, in which we integrate sustainability into our business through three pillars: Green (Planet), Health (Product), Social (People). To meet the demands of our stakeholders and ensure the long-term sustainability of our company, our strategy is based on these three pillars, each with specific plans and projects.
As for the PLANET pillar, we are committed to the protection of nature through the slogan “producing more with less”. This is achieved by involving everyone in the circular economy, reducing the consumption of natural resources and greenhouse gas emissions. Our action plans include: the continuous improvement of energy efficiency, the environmental awareness of the employees, the sustainable use of water, the implementation of measures related to climate change adaptation, the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices and the definition of a roadmap to achieve climate neutrality through decarbonization. At Importaco, this sustainability strategy allows us to advance our business while creating shared value among our stakeholders.
We are working on our agricultural integration project to grow nuts that regenerate natural ecosystems, care for the soil, implement efficient water use, and can in turn improve the well-being of farmers and end consumers. In this sense, we apply cultivation practices in a total of 24,738 hectares that meet quality, food safety and sustainability standards. In addition, Importaco is part of the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) as part of this project: a global strategy that aims to improve agricultural production while protecting natural resources, improving farmers’ nutrition and livelihoods, and addressing environmental and social issues related to agriculture.
Our agricultural integration project allows us to consolidate partnerships with 453 farmers to implement good agricultural practices in the cultivation of various products, such as peanuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, corn and pumpkin seeds. This project integrates all stages of cultivation and enables product traceability from the field, as well as the application of good agricultural practices aimed at maximizing quality, reducing defects and detecting emerging risks. In this area, we are committed to respecting land rights and natural resources with our suppliers by analyzing the critical points that may affect them, drawing up action plans for their management, including water management, integrated production and biodiversity protection, as well as monitoring and indicators for each of them.
Our main commitments are threefold:
- Address biodiversity and habitat loss and prevent its negative impacts through life cycle analysis of our main products to understand the environmental impacts of their cultivation and production.
- Move towards sustainable production patterns, including water resources and inputs related to fertilization and plant protection.
- Conserve soil by preventing soil degradation, erosion and depletion along with maintaining microbial activity.
These three objectives are pursued through two agricultural models: our own harvest and through collaboration agreements with farmers.
Outcomes: Within our agricultural integration strategy, Importaco Terra is Importaco’s project dedicated to the cultivation of almonds in Spain and Portugal. It currently has an area of 550 hectares spread over the farms of La Guita, Freixo and Zurria, which are cultivated according to sustainable and regenerative agriculture standards. At Importaco Terra we work to reduce the environmental impact of cultivation through sustainable agriculture techniques, such as soil conservation, the use of agrochemicals with caution, the development of water management practices, crop rotation and the preservation of biodiversity. We also improve the well-being of farmers through training in new production techniques, improved harvesting processes and access to new sources of income.
The project includes the selection of almond varieties adapted to the area, the development of a complete sustainable production system, the use of sustainable agricultural practices and the application of pest and disease management techniques without the use of pesticides, which improves the quality of the nuts. In order to achieve a biological balance in the almond orchards we continue with our action plans focused on biodiversity protection such as the installation of nesting boxes, shelters for reptiles, bats, etc. and drinking troughs for birds. These practices benefit almond farmers by restoring soil fertility and promoting productivity.
Among the achievements reached in 2022, it is worth mentioning that 100% of the crop lanes maintain a vegetation cover integrated by a part of spontaneous flora typical of the ecosystem; and 60% reduction in the use of active substances thanks to the integrated management of pests and the implementation of Integrated Production practices. In addition, we conduct annual audits to evaluate sustainability criteria, such as water use, soil management and nutrient requirements.
Good agricultural practices at Importaco Terra allow us to restore and maintain the health of the soil, biodiversity and the ecosystem. This project fills a gap in sustainable and environmentally friendly almond production, which is especially relevant for the nut industry, as it allows farmers to learn about the advantages of regenerative agriculture while getting a fair price for their products and being aligned with Agenda 2030 and the demands of today’s consumers.
Consequently, during 2022, we have achieved the certification of the La Guita farm in the Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) standard and the Global Gap 5.2 Certification, demonstrating our high level of performance in this area and achieving the first Spanish almond to obtain FSA silver level. The benefits of certifications for consumers are based on the assurance that they are acquiring quality, natural and pesticide-free products. It is also relevant in the sector for contributing to improve biodiversity on farms, which allows the preservation and sustainable use of natural resources and thus, to be aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda. Finally, this type of project also helps to improve the image of the nut industry, as regenerative agriculture is a sustainable practice that promotes respect for the environment.
In conclusion, obtaining the Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) and Global Gap 5.2 certification is very important for Importaco to demonstrate that the measures taken to improve the sustainability of the nuts sector’s production are being successful.