Sustainability and traceability in the spice industry

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In recent years, the global food industry has witnessed a significant shift towards sustainability and traceability in sourcing ingredients. The demand for products with a transparent supply chain has grown exponentially, with consumers becoming increasingly conscious of the environmental and social impacts of their purchasing decisions. 

Sourcing sustainable ingredients with full traceability has evolved from being merely a moral imperative to a solid business decision. According to recent studies, two-thirds of shoppers (64%) say they would switch from a brand they usually buy to another brand that provides more in-depth product information, beyond nutrition facts.* 

Greater transparency in sourcing not only aligns with ethical values but also fosters greater brand loyalty. Beyond nutrition facts, the majority (80%) of shoppers cited other transparency indicators of importance including allergen information, certifications and claims, and values-based information such as animal welfare, fair trade, and labor practices.* This shift in consumer behavior has elevated sustainability to the top purchasing priority for a significant portion of the market.

Sustainability initiatives in spices:

Companies like ofi have incorporated sustainability into their business model, focusing on delivering positive impact and value for farmers, customers, and partners. One notable example is the production of sustainable onions, where ofi has significantly reduced its environmental footprint. Through proprietary seed development, the company has increased the dry matter of onions, boosting yield and decreasing the need for land, water, fertilizer, and pesticides per acre.

Improving farmer livelihoods is a key focus for ofi, as seen in their initiatives in India. The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) training provided to smallholder farmers, including turmeric and cumin growers, has reduced inputs and enhanced overall well-being. By conducting assessments, ofi identifies opportunities to support farmers and their families, ranging from child labor awareness to gender equity training.

Innovative projects and technology:

ofi‘s commitment to sustainability is evident in various innovative projects, such as the “Clean Pepper Project” in Vietnam. By providing comprehensive training, this initiative aims to enhance farmer livelihoods, reduce environmental impacts, and improve the quality of black pepper. Furthermore, the company leverages technology, using the award-winning sustainability insights/management platform, AtSource, to offer transparency within the supply chain.

In the United States, ofi utilizes drone technology in its paprika supply chain to support the sustainable cultivation of chili peppers. Drones capture aerial photos, enabling early identification of diseases, proactive management of irrigation, and avoidance of crop damage. This technology, coupled with internal agricultural expertise, helps partner farms reduce inputs and improve yields.

Choosing the right spice partner:

The importance of sustainability and traceability in the spice industry cannot be overstated. Consumers increasingly demand transparency, and businesses that prioritize sustainability not only align with ethical values but also experience tangible economic benefits. Is your spice vendor meeting industry demands?

Photo: © Olam International Limited

Learn industry best practices and make sure your Spice procurement meets sustainability industry benchmarks with our Traceability Checklist Tool: Learn More.

ofi‘s initiatives, from sustainable onion production to regenerative agriculture projects globally, serve as a testament to the positive impact that can be achieved through conscious sourcing practices. As the spice industry continues to evolve, embracing sustainability is not just an option but a strategic necessity for long-term success.

*Source: 2022 FMI and NielsenIQ “Transparency in an Evolving Omnichannel World” 

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1,680 thoughts on “Sustainability and traceability in the spice industry

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