Certified Origins: An ancient food becomes ClimatePartner certified

Certified Origins: An ancient food becomes ClimatePartner certified

June 19, 2024

Extra virgin olive oil is one of the oldest foods in the world and is still the undisputed star of the Mediterranean diet.  Building on this long tradition, olive oil producers are strongly interested in sustainability, especially considering the challenges that climate change is bringing to the agriculture sector. 

We talked about this with Giovanni Quaratesi, Good Food Ambassador and Head of Corporate Global Affairs at Certified Origins. The company was founded in Grosseto, Italy, and today is one of the leading producers and distributors of traceable single-origin and blended extra virgin olive oil (IGP and DOP).

Certified Origins recently made several of its flagship products ClimatePartner certified, demonstrating the company’s ongoing commitment to climate action. Giovanni spoke to us about some of the challenges the industry is facing, and why sustainability is a key priority for the company.

Why is sustainability so important to your company? 

The mission of Certified Origins is to contribute to people's health and joy through "good food" – food made with healthy, sustainable, and wholesome ingredients.

Our commitment is reflected first and foremost in our sourcing practices. We use advanced traceability systems, such as Oracle's blockchain technology, which allows us to ensure transparency from field to fork and deliver quality food to supermarkets around the world. 

As the name "Certified Origins" implies, our products are part of a transparent and certified supply chain in terms of quality and food safety. For some years now, we have also felt the need to measure our environmental impact, from production to the supermarket shelf, in order to identify areas where we can take action to make our company and products more sustainable. 

What are the main challenges in your industry?

It is a sector with challenges on several fronts. There are environmental factors, where extreme weather events have a direct impact on the yield, quantity, and quality of olive crops. Just in the last couple of years, areas in the Mediterranean region, which combined represent about 80% of the world's olive production, have been hit particularly hard. This region has faced long periods of drought and heat waves that have had a negative impact on the health of olive trees and consequently, the entire sector. 

Due to the collapse in production that occurred in Spain in particular, the whole sector is still experiencing great volatility in prices, which have remained unstable for almost two years. Suffice to say that conventional Italian and Spanish olive oil have reached wholesale price peaks that would have been hard to imagine a few years ago. The higher prices at origin lead to higher shelf prices, which in turn lead to a contraction in consumption, especially in Europe. 

Extra virgin olive oil is a more valuable ingredient than other condiments, and for this reason is sometimes subject to misleading marketing practices and a lack of transparency in labelling. Controls have fortunately increased a lot in recent years, as has consumer awareness of the product, but we still see a lot of room for improvement. 

What does the collaboration with ClimatePartner involve?

We decided to start working with ClimatePartner by certifying our premium brand of Italian extra virgin, Bellucci, to find another tangible way to reflect our dedication to environmental responsibility, transparency, and traceability.

We embarked on a journey, starting with measuring the carbon footprint of our company and of some of our flagship products that are marketed in the United States. Through this collaboration, we have identified some reduction strategies to reduce our impact on the environment. 

With the ClimatePartner certified label displayed on our products, we can communicate our commitment to the environment directly on the shelf and provide transparency to our customers about our reduction activities and our investment in climate projects. 

What climate action measures are you taking?  

The first action we took was to increase the percentage of recycled packaging in all our products.  From plastic, to glass, to paper, we are gradually phasing out the use of virgin materials and have now reached 70% for some products. 

The cost of recycled materials is often higher than that of virgin products, and they are more complex to obtain in large quantities. However, we are convinced that this is the best way forward for us, for our customers, and for the whole industry. Even a small percentage, when scaled up to large volumes, helps eliminate tonnes of waste that would otherwise end up stored in landfills or worse, dispersed into the environment.  

To date, we are also actively working to identify partners for the recovery of abandoned olive groves in Italy, to bring them back into production and contribute to the local economy, and in Spain for the protection and regeneration of areas that are home to endangered, centuries-old olive trees.  

 

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