Fresh-cut tropical fruit supplier Blue Skies has won its fourth Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Sustainable Development category, recognising its ground-breaking sustainability plan called the ‘Blueprint’.
The Queen’s Award for Enterprise was instituted by Royal Warrant in 1965 and is the highest official UK awards for British businesses. There are three categories: International Trade, Innovation and Sustainable Development.
According to Blue Skies, its Blueprint is “a set of commitments for people, planet and profit, designed to ensure the business can meet the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
The plan was created through the company’s ‘Measure, Engage, Action’ methodology, which it says allows it to “operate a cycle of continuous improvement based on being able to understand its impact, define its priorities and quickly implement actions to improve”.
Blue Skies’ fresh-cut products include mango, pineapple, pomegranate, coconut, melon and berry mixes. These are prepared into fresh fruit salads for export to over 20 retailers in 11 markets including the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Italy and Denmark.
In addition to its prepared fruit products, the supplier also produces freshly fruit and vegetable juices as well as dairy-free vegan ice cream, allowing it to minimise food waste.
At the heart of the company’s philosophy is its commitment to adding value at source. Where possible it makes the finished product in the country or region where the fruit is grown, rather than doing it in factories overseas.
By adding value at source, Blue Skies thinks estimates that as much as 70 per cent of the value of the finished product stays within the country of origin, compared to as little as 15 per cent if it is processed.
This approach also enables greater skills development and technology transfer and creates more employment opportunities in the countries where Blue Skies’ fruit is grown.
Chairman and founder Anthony Pile said: “The principles of sustainable development are firmly embedded within our business, however we know there are growing issues of interest among our stakeholders, such as plastics, waste, and carbon emissions.
“Our Blueprint enables us to escalate focus on the most important areas and accelerate ideas and projects that will enable us to lead the way.”
He added: “Winning a fourth Queen’s Award means a huge amount to us and provides great encouragement and motivation for all our people at what is a very difficult time for the business and indeed the world.
“But it also comes at a very pertinent moment as not only are we making an incredible effort to address the extraordinary challenges of the present, but we are also embarking on an ambitious new initiative called ‘Project Phoenix’, which will ensure we will be poised to meet the changing needs of our world in the future.”
As part of this new project the company is looking at a whole raft of initiatives, such as sustainable packaging, longer-life products and new technologies to increase efficiencies across its factories, farms and distribution, while reducing its impact on the environment.
“Getting through the present crisis is our priority right now, but we will keep one eye very carefully on the future,” said Pile. “That has always been our approach, and that is why we see a very exciting future for this business.”