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Finance & Investment
Efforts to Scale Regenerative Ag Bearing Fruit Around the World

This week in regenerative-ag news, Heineken, innocent Drinks and Rainforest Alliance all revealed progress in scaling practices that increase resilience in food and beverage supply chains around the world.

Heineken marks first large-scale regenerative barley harvest in Europe

Image credit: Malteurop

Today, global brewer Heineken announced its first harvest of barley from a large-scale regenerative-agriculture model — thanks to its work with French cooperative-farming and food-processing group Vivescia and its Transitions program, along with Vivescia’s malt subsidiary, Malteurop. The collaboration focuses on an outcome-based farming approach that aims to protect and improve soil health, biodiversity, climate and water resources while supporting farming business development.

Unique upstream and downstream cooperation

This large-scale regenerative-ag program represents a unique cooperation between the plant and grain sectors —upstream and downstream partners. This year, in time for the 2024 harvest, about 200 Vivescia member-farmers in northeastern France (representing approximately 25,000 ha of land) joined Transitions. By 2025, 500 farmers are expected to be involved; by 2026, 1,000 or more (up to 100,000 ha of land). Heineken counts on purchasing most of the barley production from participating farmers via its suppliers, aligned with its ambition to reduce its scope 3 FLAG (forest, land and agriculture) emissions by 30 percent by 2030. By removing financial and technical barriers, this program will help the growth of regenerative farming and introduce a groundbreaking model for sustainable grain production.

Hervé le Faou, Senior Director Global Procurement at Heineken: "Our collaboration with Vivescia Group and Malteurop and its subsidiaries contributes to Heineken’s ambition to reduce its scope 3 FLAG emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Agriculture represents approximately 21 percent of our total carbon footprint. By investing in regenerative-agriculture practices, we aim to not only reduce our environmental impact but also to strengthen the resilience of our supply chain for the future."

Three key principles:

  • It’s the first large-scale, industry-led transition program in regenerative agriculture in Europe.

  • It operates at the farm and crop-rotation level, with suppliers and companies supporting and funding farmers' transitions.

  • It’s Heineken’s first holistic, output-based program in regenerative ag — covering indicators and measurements for carbon, soil, water, air, biodiversity and farmers' livelihoods.

Vivescia Group believes that achieving a large-scale agri-food transition needs collaboration and cost-sharing among all stakeholders, and underscored the significance of collective action and the involvement of prominent consumer brands such as Heineken in driving meaningful change at scale.

Vivescia’s Transitions program is a collective effort that brings together upstream and downstream plant and grain industries in a forward-thinking program with an ambitious and innovative agronomic approach and financing model. The aim is, by 2026, to help nearly 1,000 farmers in northeast France transition to regenerative, farming methods. 200 Vivescia cooperative members have committed to the project for three years, starting with the 2024 harvest. The Transitions program is laureate of the “Resilience and agri-food capacities 2030” call for projects and is supported by the French government as part of the France 2030 investment plan.

“The word ‘transition’ means ‘going to the other side’ or ‘going from one state to another.’ Our new frontier is that of a decarbonized, productive agricultural model that protects biodiversity and is more resilient for farmers,” said Vivescia Group President Christoph Büren. “Everything begins in the fields, with science! Tomorrow’s farming systems are being built today to protect the climate and biodiversity, thanks to our experience on the ground combined with cutting-edge research and digital innovation. With Vivescia Cooperative’s team, we support and guide farmers towards this new frontier with a solid agronomic approach, personalized support on the ground and robust funding. The transition must take place at the level of every farm.

“With Olivier Hautin, CEO of Malteurop, I would like to warmly thank Heineken for their trust and interest in our program. Together, we will continue to scale up Transitions — a program that is naturally destined to be replicated and adapted outside Vivescia’s cooperative heartland and beyond France, in other parts of the world,” Büren added. “We share a common vision and ambition: to be a model for our value chains and to become a laboratory for transitions in agriculture.”

The volume of regeneratively produced barley in this first harvest will be allocated to the French market, representing Heineken’s ambition to supporting local economies while fostering a globally connected supply chain.

Heineken’s Brew a Better World ambitions focus on three areas: raising the bar on environmental sustainability, accelerating social sustainability and championing responsible consumption. The collaboration with VIVESCIA and Malteurop contributes to the brewer’s ambitions to reduce its scope 3 FLAG emissions by 30 percent by 2030 and to reach net zero across its value chain by 2040.

innocent Drinks unveils recipients of its £1m regenerative-ag fund

Image credit: Pixley Berries

Meanwhile, innocent Drinks has announced the 11 grant recipients of its Farmer Innovation Fund (FIF) for 2024 — which awards growers financial support for projects working to help safeguard the long-term supply of fruit and veg.

As a business passionate about bringing the goodness of fruit and veg to people, innocent has granted funding to suppliers spanning 10 countries, growing 11 unique ingredients. Their projects address key agricultural challenges including soil health, biodiversity, climate change and water use.

The announcement follows the recent relaunch of the fund in which innocent increased available funding to create a grant pot of £1 million for projects that support the transition to low-carbon farming, higher biodiversity and fairer farming practices. With over half of innocent’s carbon footprint coming from its ingredients, investing in climate-resilient farming practices will be key to achieving a 50 percent reduction of its scope 3 emissions by 2030.

2024 FiF winners

Four of this year’s recipients are previous winners of the Farmer Innovation Fund, representing a commitment to invest in long-term partnerships that deliver tangible outcomes.

  • Agrarias Manchegas, Spain (grapes): A 2022 FiF winner, Agrarias Manchegas plans to transform into a fully functioning smart farm to enhance soil management, crop health, water usage, and energy efficiency.

  • Time 4 Bee (part of the Doehler Foundation in Poland), Poland (apples): Another 2022 FiF winner, Time 4 Bee will continue its plans to improve agricultural sustainability, increase biodiversity, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Piotr Podoba at Time 4 Bee commented: “Our project looks to create a significant reduction in the carbon footprint of apples as well as biodiversity improvements. We hope to have an influence on a portion of Poland’s farmers beyond only individual farms.

  • Frutilight, Costa Rica (pineapple): Another 2022 FiF winner, Frutilight is launching a project that will establish a biofertilizer plant specifically for pineapple cultivation.

  • Pixley Berries, United Kingdom (blackcurrants): A 2023 FiF winner, Pixley Berries will use bio-stimulant and a sensory device to look after blackcurrant crops over the next three years.

“Regenerative farming is a learning curve, and being a winner for the second year running means we can advance our work to identify pragmatic approaches with deliverable benefits to blackcurrant growing and other crops,” said Pixley Berries Managing Director Anna Ralph. “By combining biostimulants, measuring chlorophyll, microbials and focusing on minimum cultivations we’re pioneering a new approach. Through this, we hope to develop a revitalized agronomy fit for our times — both adapting to and mitigating climate change.”

There are also seven first-time recipients:
  • Aspis, Greece (peaches): Aspis will conduct a lifecycle assessment of peaches, assessing and evaluating the CO2 footprint of each production stage of peach puree.

  • GNT Group; Netherlands, Belgium and Germany (carrots): GNT will work with select farmers to create plots of wildflowers, herbs and plants that attract pollinators and increase biodiversity.

  • Iberfruta, Spain (peaches): Iberfruta will trial irrigation adjustments and install sensors to evaluate the physiological and agronomic behavior of peach trees under deficit irrigation strategies.

  • Mother Dairy, India (mangos): Mother Dairy will conduct a baseline report and educate farmers about the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate change and their livelihood.

  • Sensus, Netherlands (chicory root fiber): Sensus aims for 20-30 percent crop yield improvement by trialing seed-embedding technology to stimulate uniform crop growth, with the hope of reducing seed waste and soil disruption

  • Sol Organica, Nicaragua (passion fruit and dragon fruit): Sol Organica will implement the conversion of food waste into compost to reduce costs, sequester carbon and reduce methane emissions.

  • SVZ, Spain (strawberries): SVZ will implement a system to optimize water and fertilizer consumption, reducing GHGs and improving climate resilience in turn.

“We’re on a mission to help people live well through the delicious goodness of fruit & veg,” said innocent CEO Nick Canney. “Our Farmer Innovation Fund enables us to build meaningful partnerships with our suppliers to help make sure we can keep enjoying fruit & veg for years to come. This year’s winners are embarking on some truly innovative projects that show real potential for playing a part in the future of farming. I’m proud that we’re able to support them in delivering sustainable and healthy diets.”

innocent's continued focus on investing in its supply chains will enhance its sustainable practices by restoring and revitalising land used by its farmers to grow fruit and veg. The company will monitor its funded projects and share the learnings with the wider industry to help further safeguard the long-term supply of fruit and vegetables.

Rainforest Alliance, Mirova partner to finance regenerative ag and sustainable land management in the Global South

Image credit: Rainforest Alliance/Burneo Export SA

Rounding out this week's news, Rainforest Alliance has announced a strategic partnership with Mirova, an affiliate of Natixis Investment Managers dedicated to sustainable investing. Together, they aim to scale up locally led and nature-based solutions unlocking benefits for climate, biodiversity and local communities. Leveraging Mirova’s second investment strategy dedicated to sustainable land use, which aims to raise €350 million, they will implement targeted impact-investing initiatives across Africa, Latin America and Asia.

By expanding access to Rainforest Alliance certification and Mirova’s financing solutions in these regions, the partnership aims to contribute to bridging the nature-based solutions financing gap — which requires investments to triple from current levels to reach $542 billion per year by 2030. It will also propel the Rainforest Alliance’s mission, accelerating both the speed and scale of its impact to reach 100 million farmers and workers by 2030.

“Mirova and the Rainforest Alliance share a common vision: To accelerate the transition from nature-dependent economic value chains to a more sustainable model which improves the incomes and rights of local communities, it is essential to foster collective intelligence and collaboration among all stakeholders,” said Anne-Laurence Roucher, Deputy CEO and Head of Private Equity and Natural Capital of Mirova. “This partnership will allow more developers of nature-positive projects to access high-quality certification and funding to grow their business.”


  • Collaborative efforts: Starting with Mirova’s strategy dedicated to sustainable land use, this collaboration will facilitate the process of identifying investment opportunities for promoting locally led and nature-based solutions — such as regenerative agriculture and agroforestry — drawing on the Rainforest Alliance’s expertise and presence on the ground.

  • Shared belief in nature-based solutions: Regenerative agriculture enhances soil health, carbon sequestration and water retention; while agroforestry integrates trees into agricultural systems, promoting biodiversity and providing extra income for farmers. These methods harness nature’s benefits to safeguard biodiversity and ecosystems, mitigate climate change and strengthen community resilience.

  • Geographical focus: The partnership will concentrate its efforts on vital sourcing landscapes in Africa, Latin America and Asia — where the need for sustainable impact investment is most acute. As partners, Mirova will also collaborate directly with project holders to assess their eligibility for certification, while the Rainforest Alliance will help promote Mirova’s financing solutions to farmers already enrolled in its program.

The partnership is rooted in a mutual dedication to promoting sustainability across food and agriculture, biodiversity conservation, and climate resilience. With 35 years of expertise, the Rainforest Alliance forges alliances among farmers, citizens, companies and investors — increasing the uptake of sustainable and regenerative practices across more than 60 countries. Meanwhile, B Corp-certified Mirova has participated in financing more than 70 projects and companies that contribute to the protection and restoration of nature in emerging economies and in developed markets.

“We need partnerships like this to accelerate the shift of agriculture and forestry to net-positive at a meaningful speed and scale,” said Rainforest Alliance CEO Santiago Gowland. “By connecting impact investors like Mirova with the Rainforest Alliance’s proven on-the-ground impact, we can mobilize private capital for a just, regenerative transition. Together, we can help address the green finance gap and provide farmers with the capital they need to adopt more sustainable and regenerative practices, enabling both them and the land to thrive.”