Worldwide certification body SCS Global Services (SCS) has announced that Del Monte Fresh Produce has received Sustainably Grown certification for all of its banana plantations in Costa Rica and Guatemala, as well as its pineapple farms in Costa Rica.
Receiving Sustainably Grown certification for these operations marks the culmination of a multi-year effort by Del Monte to improve and verify its sustainable farming practices in Central America through third-party assessment.
As a result, certified Del Monte bananas and pineapples will now feature the SCS Kingfisher Sustainably Grown certification mark in stores.
First introduced in 2003, the SCS Sustainably Grown certification programme is one of the world's most strict standards for sustainable agriculture. The standard includes yearly auditing for compliance and emphasises continuous improvement, requiring certified farms to build on their sustainable practices over time.
"Sustainably Grown recognises agricultural operations that are on the cutting edge of sustainable farming," said Dr Stanley Rhodes, founder and CEO of SCS Global Services. "Del Monte has proven that they are serious about growing bananas and pineapples in ways that minimise environmental impact while ensuring the health and safety of its workers and their communities."
Del Monte farms receiving Sustainably Grown certification are audited to a rigorous set of environmental, social and quality criteria including, sustainable crop production, ecosystem management and protection, resource conservation and energy efficiency and integrated waste management.
Other factors taken into consideration include fair labor practices, community benefits, product quality, and product safety and purity.
"Del Monte Fresh is committed to embracing sustainable agriculture and making environmental conservation and fair labor practices a major part of our banana and pineapple supply chain," said Hans Sauter, vice-president corporate research & development and agricultural services for Del Monte. "Achieving Sustainably Grown certification assures our customers that they are receiving produce that is grown in a responsible way."
Certified Del Monte bananas and pineapples featuring the Sustainably Grown Kingfisher certification mark will begin appearing on store shelves in Europe and the United States in 2015.