A new line of baby food, which Danone’s Happy Family Organics sources from farms practicing regenerative agriculture, could help boost such efforts across other food companies' supply chains.
How the line stand outs on store shelves could make a difference in whether consumers become more enthusiastic about products that food companies like Happy Family and its parent company, Danone, source from land where farmers adopt regenerative agriculture techniques.
Each industry has its own challenges with sustainability, and agriculture is no exception. According to the World Economic Forum, the top five global risks facing society all involve the environment, and agriculture is one industry that needs to become far more sustainable.
That’s where regenerative agriculture enters the picture.
Regenerative agriculture is farmland management that nurtures and improves soil through methods including no-till planting, crop rotation, and integrating plants with roots that can help prevent erosion. Such farming methods go further than feeding today’s consumers and seek to provide for the next generation by protecting the natural resources used in crop production. In sum, regenerative agriculture goes far beyond doing no harm to land — it can actually improve the quality of the land in the long run.
Although regenerative agriculture can result in the decrease of yields from farm to farm, the value of “quality over quantity” rings true as the practice offers some long-term rewards. In a study involving 20 farms, those using regenerative practices experienced an almost 80 percent increase in profits compared to those that used more traditional farming methods. The enhanced soil health can also result in higher-quality produce, which in turn grocers can sell at a higher price.
A shift to regenerative agriculture can also result in removing carbon from the atmosphere and channeling it back into the soil, producing healthier crops while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Additional methods, such as the planting of cover crops, reduces unhealthy runoff from reaching water sources. The rebuilt soil is also more efficient at holding water and requires less irrigation than traditional cropland.
These benefits go far beyond impacts on farming practices or the environment. To that end, the moves Happy Family is taking to include regenerative agriculture within its supply chain offers an opportunity to bolster its reputation with farmers, as well as with consumers determined to buy products with a positive environmental and social impact.
Happy Family’s new line of baby food includes three flavors of purees, with the potential for more coming soon, the company says. Last year, Happy Family said it sourced 300,000 pounds of produce from farms that incorporated regenerative agriculture; this year, it plans to source over 2 million pounds of such fruits and vegetables.
The presentation of Happy Family’s new line could help influence the decisions consumers make when they purchase baby food and other food products. The packaging prominently displays the slogan Farmed for Our Future, and the colorful labels include a “regenerative and organic” logo and more information about the farming practices. Other companies, such as organic food company Annie’s, have used a similar packaging technique to inform consumers about the long-term benefits of regenerative agriculture.
To date, Happy Family claims it has sourced more than 150 million pounds of organic fruits and vegetables that do not contain any pesticides, antibiotics, synthetic fertilizers or growth hormones. The brand says it has also increased its recycling efforts, as its packaging is not recyclable in all municipal waste collection systems. On that point, the company has pledged to make 100 percent of its packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.
Image credit: Happy Family Organics/PR Newswire
Debra is a writer and public relations professional based in Upstate New York. Her other interests include graphic design, photography, nature and animals. You can find her on LinkedIn.