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Applegate, innocent Double Down on Commitments to Regenerative Agriculture

innocent Drinks adds £1m to its Farmer Innovation Fund to support regenerative fruit & vegetable farming within its supply chain, while Applegate sets to transitioning its entire beef hot dog portfolio to regeneratively grazed beef by 2025.

innocent Drinks plans for the ‘fruiture’ with regeneratively farmed fruits & veg

Image credit: innocent

Today, UK-based innocent Drinks announced the availability of up to £1 million in grants this year through its enhanced Farmer Innovation Fund. As a business passionate about bringing the goodness of fruit and veg to people, the fund represents an increased investment to help safeguard the long-term supply of fruit and veg through regenerative agriculture — as innocent advances its plans to decarbonize its supply chain.

Launched in 1999, B Corp-certified innocent’s growing range of smoothies, juices, coconut water and more are now sold in over 18 countries around the world — and its mission is to get a billion more portions of fruit and veg into people’s diets by 2030. innocent has led with its sustainability ethos from the beginning through a growing number of social, environmental and circular initiatives; and while it has been taken to task for some of its sustainability claims, the brand’s expanded commitment to responsible farming and ingredient sourcing, and continued communication about its sustainability work — bode well for its continued progress on those fronts.

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With only 12 percent of Europeans getting their five a day, innocent says expanding availability of responsibly farmed fruit and veg has never been more important — and to help ensure their availability for generations to come, it’s imperative to support farmers to systemically change agricultural supply chains.

innocent’s Farmer Innovation Fund provides funding to its ingredient suppliers 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 regenerative farming practices will be key to achieving a 50 percent reduction of its scope 3 emissions by 2030.

£1 million in grants available for 2024

The fund, first launched in March 2021, aims to address the lack of funding options available to commercial farmers and provide funds to cover losses associated with trialing new, innovative farming practices.

Funding will be offered to all innocent ingredient suppliers, with a special focus on those providing priority fruits — such as apples and oranges — which produce the biggest portion of innocent’s Scope 3 emissions. Within the total fund of £1 million, grants will be made available between £20,000 - £500,000 — with those over £500,000 considered on a case-by-case basis.

Longer term, the fund will also cover grants for advocacy, education and collaboration beyond innocent’s supply chains; and innocent will share its learnings throughout the process to accelerate the transition to sustainable farming throughout the industry.

“We’re on a mission to help people live well through the delicious goodness of fruit & veg, working to ensure everyone gets enough today and in the future,” said innocent CEO Nick Canney. “That’s why we are proud to play a part in helping our suppliers secure fruit & veg for the long term. We see the Farmer Innovation Fund as a great opportunity to weave a strong connection from our drinkers to our farmers by working with our suppliers to safeguard the future supply of fruit and vegetables. So, they can continue to play their role in delivering sustainable and healthy diets.”

The fund’s previous recipients include Döhler — which is using the grant to reduce the carbon footprint in its apple and mango supply chains, and Agrarias Manchegas — which is using the grant to optimize farm inputs via data management and precision agriculture technology.

External advisory board

innocent has brought together leading industry experts to ensure funding is allocated effectively to the projects that will have the biggest impact on farming and agricultural practices: Dominik Klauser, Regenerative Agriculture Director at SAI Platform; Oliver Williams, Corporate Philanthropy Senior Manager at Virgin Unite; Martin Lines, third-generation farmer and CEO of the Nature Friendly Farming Network; and Jyoti Fernandes — a Dorset smallholder farmer and head of policy at the Landworkers Alliance.

“We need to see more investment in supporting farmers on their journey towards de-risking and embracing regenerative farming practices,” Klauser said. “It’s great to see businesses like innocent drinks committing to support the farmers within their supply chain to make this transition.”

Applegate Farms aims to source entire beef hot dog portfolio from regenerative beef by the end of 2025

Image credit: Applegate

Meanwhile, Applegate®, the US’s leading natural and organic meat brand, today announced a commitment to transition its entire line of grass-fed beef hot dogs to beef raised on verified regenerative grasslands by the end of 2025. Implementing this change across its entire beef hot dog portfolio is expected to contribute to the regeneration of six million acres of grasslands, which will increase the current regenerative acreage of Applegate suppliers by more than 2,200 percent.

“For 37 years, Applegate has led the charge for higher standards* for animal agriculture, from the way we care for our animals to how we work to preserve the land and planet they live on,” said Applegate President Joseph O’Connor. “As pioneers of the movements surrounding organic and Applegate Humanely Raised meat and animals that are raised with no antibiotics ever, we saw a larger opportunity for regeneratively sourced meat. By working to shift our entire beef supply chain, consumers can support regenerative practices without having to forgo our organic and natural hot dogs they already love. This, in turn, will help to incentivize farmers and the industry to move regenerative-agriculture practices from niche to norm.”

With two out of three US adults saying they eat meat frequently and cattle consistently spotlighted for their negative environmental impacts, Applegate — which became a stand-alone subsidiary of Hormel Foods in July 2015 — acknowledges the need to improve cattle-grazing practices to both meet demand and reduce livestock’s impacts on the environment. So, the company is doubling down on its commitment to regenerative practices such as rotational and holistic managed grazing — which play a vital role in a healthy food system by not only helping to restore soil health, sequester carbon and safeguard the land against drought, wildfires and erosion; data show it boosts levels of vital nutrients in the meat vs conventionally raised beef.

In 2021, Applegate launched the Do Good Dog™ — the first nationally available hot dog made with beef raised on verified regenerative US grasslands. The creation of the product helped to transition 260,000 acres of grassland to regenerative. The Do Good Dog pilot launch and consumer reception confirmed Applegate’s hypothesis: the company's size and experience scaling specialized supply chains in the meat category can make regenerative agriculture familiar and accessible in the mass market. Like all-natural and organic before it, the company’s goal to transition to a 100 percent regenerative beef supply for all its hot dogs is just the latest example of Applegate’s commitment to elevating the humble hot dog.

To transition the six million acres of grassland and achieve its goal of improving land health, Applegate will work with its network of more than 250 beef farmers to implement a regenerative standard with third-party verification through certifiers such as Land to Market — which will allow Applegate to source the larger quantities of certified regeneratively raised beef needed to supply its beef hot dog portfolio.

“Using Applegate Humanely Raised as our foundation, we are expanding our program as we consider the symbiotic relationship of plants and animals and the positive impact these regenerative practices have on the land,” O’Connor added. “We have long believed that a holistic approach to agriculture results in a better food system. Now is the time to scale.”

Additionally, Applegate will collaborate with umbrella frameworks such as GRASS (Generalized Regenerative Agriculture Sourcing Specification) and the Textile Exchange Regenerative Outcomes Framework to ensure its standards are aligned with industry-accepted metrics for ecological outcomes and animal welfare.

The expanded commitment to regeneratively grazed beef comes alongside the release of Applegate’s inaugural Mission Report — a comprehensive evaluation of the impact on people, animals and the planet; as well as deep insights into all of the programs and activities Applegate undertakes to further its mission of “Changing The Meat We Eat®.” The report measures forward-looking initiatives following the four pillars of its Mission Standards Index: people, environmental sustainability, animal welfare and ingredient integrity; metrics on each will be updated and evaluated annually.

“The publication of our Mission Report represents the first time we have quantified the impact of our program,” said Carolyn Gahn, Applegate’s Senior Director of Mission and Advocacy. “In doing so, we aim to provide all of our stakeholders — whether suppliers, retailers or consumers — with knowledge about the role they play in our ecosystem. We are already leveraging these insights to continue to improve the work we do for people, animals, and the planet.”