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Our Water Stewardship Journey

Water is the source of life. In addition to being essential for drinking water and hygiene, water is indispensable to make our everyday items ranging from clothes to cell phones, to –most essentially– our food. Like any living organism, fruits and vegetables need water to grow. Nature’s Pride understands that it is virtually connected to the water situation in producing countries through the fruits and vegetables it imports. In a world of increasing water stress, we are developing value chain strategies that support responsible water use on the ground, for the well-being of communities, the environment, and the business we share with our dedicated growers, clients, and consumers. Four years ago, Nature’s Pride ventured into the still largely unknown territory of value chain collaboration on water. Today, On World Water Day we reflect on our progress.

Desk and field research

In 2018 we set out to radically better understand water in our value chain. We assigned an internal topic owner, created a high-level internal working group, and hired water experts Good Stuff International. We visited our growers, created risk maps and our water strategy.

Moving into Action

  1. Procurement and Growers

Launched in 2019, our water strategy has three levels. Level one focuses on procurement and growers: who we buy from, under which conditions. With our dedicated growers, we increased water saving through better irrigation, water reuse, and improved soil management. At the same time, we were the first in our sector to pilot the GLOBALG.A.P SPRING water audit. Successfully completed in 2 countries, in 25 fields and with multiple crops, it provided valuable feedback to GLOBALG.A.P.

  1. Sector Advocacy

On level two, sector advocacy, Nature’s Pride spearheaded the water agenda for the fresh produce sector in Europe. As chairwoman of the SIFAV Steering Committee (Sustainability Initiative Fruits and Vegetables, as hosted by IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative), we engaged with stakeholders ranging from conservation organizations such as WWF, to retailers and other traders, to set concrete water targets for our sector. These have now been officially adopted in the SIFAV 2025 work program. At the same time, Nature’s Pride also advocated value chain collaboration at global conferences such as the World Water Week and the EU Water Innovation Conference, organized by the European Commission.

  1. Stewardship at Catchment Level

Level three, stewardship at catchment level, proved to be the most challenging. The catchment is a geographical area beyond the farm in which hundreds if not thousands of different stakeholders use water from the same source. For long-term catchment resilience, it’s crucial to balance overall water demand with water availability. Across the globe, this is becoming a challenge as major fruit-producing regions are starting to experience increased water stress: from California to Chile and Peru, from the Western Cape to Morocco and Spain.

Learning by Doing

Nature’s Pride realized how critical it is to mobilize the whole value chain to work together on water resilience strategies. But, quite frankly, we didn’t how to do this. Taking a practical approach, true to our pioneering roots, we decided to venture into the unknown and learn by doing. We reached out to a wide array of stakeholders and spent countless hours listening, reading, learning, with the aim of bringing different perspectives and approaches together.

Stepping up our Commitment

By 2020, we were ready for the next step. After much preparation, we created together with IDH–The Sustainable Trade Initiative the creation of the Ica Catchment Passport, a technical baseline analysis of the water situation in Ica, co-created and locally validated through a stakeholder-inclusive process. Simultaneously, we embedded water into our procurement processes, created an in-house water training for our buyers, and, amidst the COVID19 pandemic, started projects to improve access to Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) for communities in our sourcing countries. These actions did not go unnoticed and the Fruit Logistica Trend Report on Sustainability featured our work on water.

Partners for Water

In 2021 we reached another milestone: we entered into a pioneering partnership with the Netherlands government’s Partners for Water program to make a Catchment Passport in Aconcagua, Chile, a process identical to the one completed one year before in Peru. At the same time, under the umbrella of SIFAV, we shared what we learned about Ica with our competitors, raising awareness and setting the stage for pre-competitive collective action. We also expanded our water work to Spain where our strawberry growers led by example by passing the WWF Spain water check.

Value Chain Collective Action

In 2022 we reached what we had been working on for many years: Ica was officially chosen by SIFAV members as the first catchment for collective action. Value chain action on water is now a reality – an achievement we celebrate and are very proud of.

Our water stewardship journey is only beginning and we learn as we go along.

Let us work together for a sustainable fresh produce sector, in balance with nature, communities, while generating long-term shared prosperity.