With over 20 years’ experience in the berry business and having been an integral part of the global expansion of the BerryWorld business, Technical Director Tim Newton continues to lead the group of companies in its sustainability journey towards a world of good, with the development of a global sustainability framework based on a ‘doing’ philosophy.
How would you summarise the BerryWorld Group’s sustainability philosophy?
We’re on a journey to make a positive change to our planet. We’ve always been a farm-to-fork business, so sustainability has inherently been part of our way of working. Today we’re making strides towards a “glocal” approach. rooted in goodness, reflecting both local and global considerations.
I like to say our philosophy is that we are sustainability ‘doers’ rather than ‘preachers’, I like facts and I like to see results. A good example of this is our food waste tackling partnership with FareShare in the UK. Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, BerryWorld has donated over 400k meals to those in need.
More globally, another good example is our European distribution centre, located in Made in The Netherlands, which was recognised earlier this year for its sustainable build and design with a BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ certification, a top award for environmentally friendly design.
What are your priority areas within sustainability?
For years, we have been running research to understand consumer needs and concerns within sustainability and have witnessed the steady growth of sustainability as a purchase concern when food shopping.
As such, we have aligned ourselves with consumer needs as well as retailers’ demands across all territories, to focus our efforts on six areas within sustainability, which we can effectively have an impact on. These priority areas sit under our control or under our influence through our partners across the supply chain.
The six areas, which are of key importance for our business, are: Resources and emissions - improving our growing to limit our environmental impact; Packaging innovations - packing our berries sustainably, whilst ensuring the best quality; Supply optimisation - using technology to drive efficiencies and improve processes; Monitoring trends - using our insights to adapt to everchanging needs; Ethical sourcing - ensuring we trade in a socially responsible manner; and, last but not least, Empowering people - through education and training to seek sustainable solutions.
This framework summarises our vision and lays the foundations for sustainable innovation and development across our berry world.
The BerryWorld Group currently sources berries from approximately 30 countries and has 8 marketing desks around the world, how do you set a sustainability framework that works for all?
Since its establishment in 1994, BerryWorld has grown from a small UK based business into a global group of companies, tailoring our supply to the local needs. Indeed, the ‘local for local’ approach has been at the heart of our expansion, so focusing on supplying high quality locally grown berries where possible and then meeting a 52-week demand with the support of our global network of growers.
Unlike other global corporations, even though we share a set of values and behaviours as a group, each local business unit has its own idiosyncrasy; so we knew a ‘one size fits all’ approach would not work for us.
We started by involving our global teams, presenting our strategy to all staff at a Group Town Hall to each and every member of the business so that they knew they had a role to play. We used this event as a way of nurturing a way of thinking and behaving internally, to assist in achieving greater collective impact.
What’s next for the BerryWorld Group in the sustainability area?
We have created forums under each sustainability pillar to exchange thoughts, best practices and ideas within and across our business. These forums are platforms for our global team members to bring in expertise, with an inclusive and collaborative approach.
In the next part of our journey, we will continue to develop tools and easy reporting systems that will allow us to compare and align all areas of our business to drive improvement and ensure we evolve with sustainable growth.