LIMITING food waste, packaging, and boosting water and energy efficiency have been captured in a new Horticulture Sustainability Framework developed for Australia.
Created with input from more than 600 industry participants, the framework details 17 focus areas that align with existing business measures and initiatives, as well as the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.
Hort Innovation chief executive Matt Brand said the framework has been developed at a time when consumers and investors are increasingly asking for evidence of ethical and sustainable practices from their food producers.
"The aim of the Horticulture Sustainability Framework is to acknowledge the significant contribution fresh produce growers make to the nation's families and environment through the provision of fresh and nutritious food," Mr Brand said.
"It also promotes sustainable and responsible care for our natural environment and provides a vital roadmap for a stronger Australian farming future."
Mr Brand said the initiative aligns with a range of research efforts being delivered by Hort Innovation, in line with the target to grow agriculture to $100 billion by 2030.
Queensland vegetable producer Shane Quinn, Mulgowie Farming Company, said the Mulgowie Farming team was proud to use ethical sustainable practices.
"We look forward to the Sustainability Framework providing the means to demonstrate positive environmental impacts and industry issues of concern to a wide range of stakeholders," Mr Quinn said.
Almond Board of Australia market development manager Joseph Ebbage said trade partners in Europe and in the UK were looking for suppliers that can meet sustainability metrics.
"Our ability to communicate sustainability credentials is vital to maintaining and growing these relationships," Mr Ebbage said.
"The framework provides an invaluable foundation document for our industry. The Australian almond industry is looking to leverage this rich body of insights to create a program specific to growing and processing almonds in Australia."
The Horticulture Sustainability Framework was developed over more than 12 months and involved input from producers, employees, industry peak bodies, service and input suppliers, and researchers. Financers and investors, marketers and exporters, retailers, governments and consumers also had input.
Mr Brand said all groups shared very similar sustainability priorities with topics such as limiting produce waste, food safety and energy use being some of the most important issues.
"The next step is to measure the sectors current performance against each indicator identified in the framework," Mr Brand said.
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