Sunday, August 14, 2022

Horticulture industry addresses sustainability

Key decision-makers from the horticulture industry gathered in Sydney recently to discuss the “levers that need to be pulled” to ensure a more sustainable industry.

Following on from the release of the Australian-grown Sustainability Framework last year, Hort Innovation and the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) hosted the inaugural Horticulture Sustainability Summit to help inform annual reporting against a range of measures.

Hort Innovation General Manager of Stakeholder Experience Dr Anthony Kachenko says the summit marked a shift in industry priorities.

“The Australian horticulture industry is seeing sustainability as a tangible, achievable and necessary part of their businesses,” he says. “10 years ago, sustainability – from environmental management and waste minimisation to workforce development – did not get the same consideration it does today.”

Hort Innovation Chief Executive Matt Brand says that there’s a historic shift happening in the industry.

“Times are rapidly changing,” he says. “This rise in sustainable business practices is driven by a growing collective conscience that is felt by not only growers but also the consumers they serve and those that invest in their businesses.”

What was discussed

Best-practice approaches already being applied by industry businesses were discussed at the summit, along with what is working, what is not and how that can be harnessed to create annual sustainability reporting for the industry as a whole.

With more than 50 industry representatives in the room, many participants shared their sustainability journeys. This included a panel featuring Warwick Hope from Woolworths, Dean Parsons from sustainable pallet and container provider CHEP and Shane Quinn from Queensland vegetable growing company Mulgowie.

After the panel, a host of participants offered their experiences with sustainable practices including NSW nursery grower Sonja Cameron.

What’s next?

IFPA ANZ Chief Executive Darren Keating says while his organisation, and others including major companies, may have sustainability policies in place, it’s important to get everyone in the horticulture industry on the same page and share learnings wherever possible.

“When it comes to protecting the stewardship of our land, our people and our local and global reputations, there should be no competition between businesses, just a collective agreement that we are all doing whatever we can to move in a positive direction,” he says.

The information gathered at the summit is expected to help form part of the Australian-grown Horticulture Sustainability Report, an inaugural reporting document that provides baseline data aligned with the focus areas within The Sustainability Framework. The report is expected to be complete in October.

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