Simplot Adds Sustainability Goals to Food Group Website
Mar 7, 2022
Ever wonder what we’re doing to produce food more sustainably?
Simplot Foods has launched a new addition to simplotfoods.com that details our ongoing sustainability efforts. Visitors can access it at simplotfoods.com/sustainability.
The new section features the company’s 4Sight 2030 Goals that lay out four key targets to improve sustainability at Simplot company-wide, around the globe. The focus areas include:
- Energy: Reduce energy use by 15% per ton of product.
- Carbon: Reduce carbon emissions by 20% per ton of product.
- Water: Reduce freshwater intake by 15% per ton of product.
- Waste: Achieve zero waste to landfill in our food processing plants globally.
A common platform for sustainability and reporting
The 4Sight 2030 initiative represents the first time the company has cultivated common sustainability goals across its global organization, creating a common platform and reporting method to further transparency and accountability. This effort includes our processing plants in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and China, along with offices in the U.S. and Australia.
Adopted in October 2020, the 4Sight 2030 Goals come on the heels of previous successful initiatives that included reducing energy consumption by 25% per ton of product versus 2013 levels.
Sustainability has always been part of the Simplot story
Although the term “sustainability” as we know it today didn’t exist when the company was founded in 1929, respect for resources has always been a core value at Simplot.
“The waste avoidance ethic is very prominent in our company,” says Brandy Wilson, Global Sustainability Director at Simplot. “In fact, it dates back to J.R. Simplot. Every time he saw waste going on, he figured that was money flying out the door and he was absolutely right about that.
“Simplot already has a circular economy where, for example, we take our waste from our processing plants and feed that to the cattle in our feed yards,” Wilson continues. “We’re actually honing in on our zero waste to landfill goal already.”
In commercial kitchens, up to 60% of fresh fruit and vegetables (by weight) are removed as trim during recipe prep. Most of it ends up in a landfill. Removing this material during processing and feeding it to cattle conserves landfill space and helps Simplot produce more food per acre with fewer inputs.
“The EPA has a food waste hierarchy that prioritizes what you should do with your food waste,” Wilson explains. “Converting it to animal feed so that it makes food for more people is a higher value than composting.”
Other recent examples of our sustainability activities:
- The construction of our LEED Gold Certified potato processing plant in Caldwell, Idaho, which received the Idaho Governor’s Award for Excellence in Energy Efficiency in 2017.
- Idaho Governor’s 2021 Award for Excellence in Energy Efficiency for our Idaho Plant High Bay Freezer.
- Repurposing waste from avocado processing for compost production, fuel for steel production, cooking oil, and polymers for biodegradable plastic utensils. No avocado waste (pits, peels or damaged fruit) is landfilled.
- Generating biogas for use in our plants using anaerobic digesters.
- Implementing advanced water filtration and water recycling that reduce freshwater intake at our Idaho Plant by nearly 50% compared to older technology, saving 30 million gallons of freshwater per month.
“An interesting aspect of our energy goal is that, over the previous 10 years, we had accomplished our prior goal of reducing energy by 25% per ton of product,” Wilson says. “Our new 15% energy reduction goal will come on top of that.”
Collaborating with competitors and partners to expand our impact
In addition to operational improvements, Simplot has been active in forming new partnerships and collaborations to expand the impact of sustainability efforts up and down the supply chain. About 10 years ago, the company co-founded the Potato Sustainability Initiative (PSI), a group of potato processors, distributors, major restaurant chains, non-governmental organizations, universities, and 550 growers, working together to grow, process and serve potatoes more sustainably. In January 2020, the PSI became the Potato Sustainability Alliance and expanded its engagement, evolving into an independent alliance with a broader membership.
“The Potato Sustainability Alliance is actually a pre-competitive alliance, so our competitors are all members as well,” says Jolyn Rassmussen, Senior Manager, Raw Development and Sustainability at Simplot. “We’re working on issues around sustainability in a collaborative way so the entire industry improves instead of just one processor.”
Simplot has also partnered with environmental organizations like The Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund on projects around sustainable growing practices and processing efficiency.
Bigger goals, greater transparency
Freezing food has always been a valuable strategy for “preserving the harvest,” one that reduces spoilage and preserves nutrients without artificial ingredients. Now our 4Sight 2030 Goals are driving us to produce frozen food more sustainably as we help feed our growing world.
“This company has always been good at finding ways to produce more food with fewer resources,” said Simplot Foods President Mark McKellar. “But we haven’t always been good about sharing all we do to increase efficiency and reduce waste. This addition to our website should reassure our customers and our communities that we are actively caring for the environment we all depend on.”
For more information, please visit simplotfoods.com/sustainability.