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Johnathan Sutton, group safety and environment executive at leading avocado supplier Westfalia Fruit Group, will talk exclusively during Fruitnet’s World of Fresh Ideas about the company’s plan to recover its lifetime carbon emissions by 2049.

The year 2049 is highly significant, as it will be 100 years since the group was founded by famed geologist and humanitarian Dr Hans Merensky.

But the target is not just about marking an anniversary. It forms a central part of Westfalia’s new comprehensive environmental strategy, which is designed to make its international operations even more sustainable and environmentally friendly, and ensure its ethical values remain at the heart of its daily business.

“It’s very ambitious,” Sutton admits. “But we need to take action. Climate change is very real, and as a custodian of agricultural land around the world, it’s our duty to be more responsible for the environment we operate within.”

Achieving this and other sustainability goals depends on establishing good and reliable information about what Westfalia already does. “What we’ve done over the past year is accurately establish what our baseline looks like,” Sutton explains.

This has enabled the group to see what it does well and where improvement is possible. “We looked at where we already had good data, good information, or good practice, and then we can replicate it across the total business.”

Westfalia already has a lot to offer in terms of its sustainability, Sutton argues. He points to land it owns around the world as an example, and how the company has put a lot of focus on building a biodiverse landscape, both in its cropped orchards and the surrounding areas.

“This acts as a potential carbon sink. We return a huge amount of matter back to the orchards every year to drive home this idea of doing good, which is at the heart of Westfalia’s values and means something to everyone.”

He adds: “Whether it knew it or not, Westfalia has a strong history in sustainability because of the heritage of the Hans Merensky Foundation and our key stakeholders.”

At World of Fresh Ideas, Sutton will explore specific areas where Westfalia is making good progress on sustainability, as well as areas where it intends to improve, on its journey to lifetime carbon neutrality by the middle of the century.