United Fresh | Working Towards Sustainability

"New Zealand’s $6 billion horticulture industry has been one of the first to feel the adverse effects of climate change as significant weather events increase and rising temperatures disrupt our crop patterns.

Working towards increasing sustainability in the sector is one of the top priorities for United Fresh and for many of our partners as we look to ensure our fruit and vegetable supply chain meets the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Recent work by the United Fresh Technical Advisory Group (TAG) includes a number of significant projects intended to drive change in our sector.

Our Reusable Plastic Crates (RPC) workstream has seen the TAG investigate the use of crates in the supply chain from field to store looking at ways in which the industry can manage this resource more sustainably.

We continue to conduct work relating to fruit labels composition in preparation for the Government’s decision to phase-out plastic labels next year. With labels essential to both growers, in terms of brand protection, and consumers, in terms of traceability and food safety, finding an effective and affordable solution is urgent.

United Fresh recently supported a Recycled Packaging Research Project initiated by the New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Centre (NZFSSRC), which explored the current state of the recycled packaging industry in New Zealand by surveying stakeholder perceptions and developed guidelines to enable more effective recycled packaging use.

The results of the project have been released as six documents which provide a very good overview of the complexity and challenges posed. We recommend anyone who is utilising recycled packaging, read the detailed reports. The stakeholder perceptions and guidelines report in particular provide practical guidance for business.

The papers include ten key recommendations based on insights from stakeholder interviews. These can be found on our website www.unitedfresh.co.nz.

The NZFRSSC papers provide useful guidelines and analysis of the issues that using recycled packaging materials may bring. They highlight the structural issues that need to be worked on and provide guidelines for individual businesses who are seeking to use recycled packaging.

Next month United Fresh will join other members of the International Federation for Produce Standards at their Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Industry Global Sustainability Symposium.

With the almost inevitable emergence of increased numbers and intensity of rules, regulations, and standards set to affect the fresh produce industry from growers to retailers, the IFPS Board of Directors has determined that our industry should consider how we can take a more proactive position in the sustainability space.

We need to ensure that the requirements of a more structured sustainability regulatory framework, and supply chain reporting requirements, take the realities of our fresh produce value chains into consideration and that what we are being asked to do is feasible and adds value. During the symposium, United Fresh will be sharing the insights the TAG have gained through our many projects and discussing ways in which we can be proactive in supporting the development of sustainability policies which work for both our industry and the planet."


For more information on United Fresh's Recycled Packaging Research Project, click here.

For more information on the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Industry Global Sustainability Symposium, click here.