AIJN papers & guidelines

Sustainability

Environmental sustainability concerns are rising on the public agenda and are becoming more and more relevant to the consumer. As a truly global business, the EU fruit juice and nectars industry is aware of the important role and responsibility it has in this matter and is engaging with it proactively.

In the case of fruit juices and nectars there are considerable challenges as most European countries do not have sufficient (domestic) fruit production or no production at all for specific types of fruit, such as exotic/tropical fruits. In addition, fruits are inherently seasonal, creating thus the challenge of all-year-round supply.

AIJN and its members are currently in the process of breaking down the complex, sustainable supply chain to (lower ongoing costs?), quantify current emissions and identify production phases that need efficiency improvements. The final objective is of course to cut carbon emissions and ultimately minimise the overall environmental impact. Further improvements throughout the supply chain and across all product formats will remain essential.

In addition, producers are aware that reduction in water use is paramount. This is the ongoing objective of many European fruit juice and nectar producers who are cutting the amount of water used in the production phase and applying systems for water re-use.

Fruit juice and nectar producers have sought to provide the most environmentally friendly packaging available, which has in turn been readily accepted by consumers. Packaging innovation is even getting ahead of developments in recycling, which delivers more environmentally efficient options, without compromising food safety and food quality.

Although there have been proposals from different European bodies for a standardised method of carbon footprint assessment (“eco-footprint”), this has not materialised as yet. All players in the fruit juice and nectar industry would like to see a uniform assessment method across all 27 countries to assist with carbon footprint measurement. With a full life cycle analysis, the agreed methodology should support the industry’s carbon reduction goals, without creating more legally binding and onerous labelling requirements.

This is the reason why AIJN joined the European Food Sustainable Consumption and Production Round Table. This platform is a private-public initiative, co-chaired by the European Commission and food supply chain partners. Its members are identifying scientifically reliable and uniform environmental assessment methodologies for food and drink products, as well as suitable communication tools to inform consumers and other stakeholders.

Alongside these activities, some major fruit juice companies, members of AIJN, are proactively participating in the work of the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform. This is an organisation created by the food industry to actively support the development of sustainable agriculture involving all relevant stakeholders. The SAI Platform supports agricultural practices and agricultural production systems that preserve the future availability of current resources and enhance their efficiency. Its ultimate goal is the development of sustainable agricultural practices which are harmonised along the food chain.

AIJN has endorsed the Code of Conduct for Raw Material Suppliers of SGF-IRMA, which is the body set up by the fruit juice industry to certify fruit processors and suppliers of raw materials worldwide and to monitor the authenticity and quality of raw materials used by the juice bottlers in Europe. The SGF International Raw Material Assurance carries out plant inspections in nearly 60 countries worldwide and certifies over 400 suppliers thereby covering the vast majority of the raw materials used by the European fruit juice industry. By requesting its raw material suppliers to observe the social, economic and ecological standards set out in the Code of Conduct, the European juice industry responds to the increasing concern of consumers related to the ethical and sustainable character of the juice products they buy.

Relevant papers