The Journey of a Sustainable Avocado
As avocado consumption increases, there is growing attention on what avocado production means for the planet. How sustainable is an avocado? How sustainable are Mission avocados?
As a global leader in the worldwide avocado business, we look for opportunities to reduce our environmental footprint. The agriculture industry must work hard to deploy sustainable practices, so we want to share how we do so at Mission Produce. From field to fork, our avocados are grown and distributed using sustainable practices to minimize the impact of our avocados on the planet.
In the Field
Beginning in the field, we meticulously care for our surrounding environment and remain conscious of our water usage and pollution levels.
We eliminate water waste from our avocado production by employing precision farming methods, advanced water treatment, and state-of-the-art irrigation systems across our operations:
- Automated drip irrigation and irrigation scheduling calculators allow us to give each tree the exact amount of water it needs, and no more.
- Dendrometers read the swelling and contracting of the tree, so we can determine the stress levels to grow healthier trees.
- Nutritional monitoring ensures our trees have the nutrients they need to produce optimal yields.
- Biodiverse farming practices, such as beekeeping, support the natural plant and animal ecosystems in our fields.
Because of our efforts, the water usage of each of our avocados is well below the industry average– we use 40.5% less water in Peru1 and 40% less water in California,2 compared to the average grower of each region.
Once the avocados enter our possession, they are kept temperature-controlled until they reach our customers. In certain areas of elevated heat, our avocados benefit from hydrocooling within 24 hours of picking. Hydrocooling is a technique where freshly-picked avocados are immersed in ice-cold water to freeze the ripening process, therefore extending shelf life and preserving fruit quality.
This past year, we reduced the need for recharges of our refrigeration systems. This contributed to a 16% decrease in emissions from owned sources within our avocado operations from our fiscal year (FY) 2019 to FY 2020.
Once our avocados are ready for packing, many of the boxes we use come from suppliers who hold certifications from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), all of which promote and ensure responsibly and sustainably managed forests.
Additionally, many of our avocados are packed in bags with reduced plastic. We recently announced a goal to implement a reduced plastic bag in 50% of the bags we pack and ship globally by FY 2025.
As part of the packing process, we also apply shelf-life extension technology to many of our avocados to combat food waste. In fact, our current goal is to apply this technology to 22.5 million pounds of avocados by the end of 2021. In partnership with Hazel Technologies, the Avolast Powered by Hazel® program is already proving to reduce shrink, meaning that fewer avocados are spoiling or going to waste. Data from one retailer shows that over a 4-month period, shrink decreased by an average of 25.5%, and sales increased by an average of 28.9% as a result of the program.
We are constantly looking for ways to distribute our avocados more sustainably – whether by aircraft, ship, or truck.
Our avocados are currently being shipped in a redesigned pallet configuration (one that can hold 10% more cases of avocados). In 2020, this allowed 25 million avocados to be transported more efficiently and resulted in the removal of 285 over-the-road trucks from our supply chain.
Once the avocados reach the store or restaurant, consumers can rest assured that our avocados have taken one of the most sustainable journeys an avocado can take. We pride ourselves on providing the finest for our planet, the finest for our product, and the finest for our people, in efforts to minimize our global environmental footprint.
Mission’s complete Environmental, Social and Governance Report can be read and downloaded on Mission’s Sustainability page.
- According to the Junta de Usuarios de Riego Presurizado del Distrito de Riego Moche Virú Chao, the average grower in La Libertad produces 15 tons of avocados per hectare and uses 18,000 m3 of water per hectare.
- According to the California Avocado Commission Industry Statistical Data, from 2015-2019, the average pounds of avocado per bearing acre was 5,832.50 pounds. Mission Produce farms in California produce an average of 15,000-20,000 pounds of avocados per bearing acre.
We are a global leader in the worldwide avocado business. Since 1983, we have been sourcing, producing and distributing fresh Hass avocados, and as of 2021, fresh mangos, to retail, wholesale and foodservice customers in over 25 countries. We use Avocado Intel, our in-house market intelligence capabilities, to drive expert category management, which involves analyzing data and consumer behavior to prepare ourselves and our customers to meet anticipated demand, be more profitable, attract more shoppers, and reduce shrink. The insights gleaned from Avocado Intel may inform the information provided in “The Pit Stop.”