United Fresh Releases Sustainability Guide

To assist producers and partners in developing, assessing and communicating their sustainability programs, United Fresh Produce Association has launched its Sustainability Guide and Self-Assessment Tool. The guide is intended to assist producers in understanding four key areas of sustainability – stewardship of resources, environmental impacts, social accountability, and economic success/viability.

“For fruit and vegetable producers, we believe these four areas define the most important aspects of sustainability in our industry, and reflect areas where management can enhance sustainability and cost control,” says Ray Gilmer, vice president of issues management & communication for United Fresh. “This Sustainability Guide and Self-Assessment can be a valuable tool for virtually any type of company in the produce industry.”

The Sustainability Guide and Self-Assessment also provides a means for producers to share their story about practices and processes that many already incorporate in their operations. By completing their own evaluation of their sustainability programs, producers can develop concrete information that they can use in their own business, or choose to share with others to explain their commitment to sustainable practices.

“United’s Sustainability Guide is not an audit, nor is it meant to become a requirement. Instead, it is a tool that can be used to increase knowledge, track progress, and tell the story of our industry’s commitment to sustainability,” says Gilmer. “The self-assessment process is entirely confidential; you only share your sustainability information if you want to.”

Additionally, the Sustainability Guide and Self-Assessment includes a Companion Metrics Tool that highlights specific outcome measurements that producers can use to track results over time. Together, these two parts afford producers a tracking tool to combine a practice-based analysis of major steps they are taking in enhancing sustainability, with key, outcome-based information.

Most importantly, the guide is intended to be an educational tool for those wanting to know more about what practices enhance sustainability, and to evaluate, record and track their own practices.

The Sustainability Guide and Self-Assessment was developed by the United Fresh Foundation’s Center for Global Produce Sustainability, with the contributions of the Center’s Sustainability Advisory Board, a group of United Fresh volunteer leaders representing a broad spectrum of the produce industry. The board met over a two-year period to develop the guide to help the entire produce industry supply chain define the key elements of sustainability. United Fresh wishes to acknowledge Bayer CropScience for its generous support of the Center for Global Produce Sustainability.

The guide is available in a PDF document that can be downloaded from the United Fresh website at www.UnitedFreshFoundation.org/Sustainability. A limited quantity of printed copies are also available. The guide is free to United Fresh members and for $75 for non-members.

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