THE horticultural industry has developed a game plan to tap into the growing sustainable and conscious consumer market.
Limiting food waste, packaging, and boosting water and energy efficiency among some of the opportunities highlighted in the Australian-Grown Horticulture Sustainability Framework.
The report found supply chains and consumers were increasingly interested in understanding where their food comes from, while markets and investors were seeking evidence of high sustainability standards.
Three-quarters of Aussies businesses have metrics to measure environmental sustainability, while 27pc intend to make their supply chain more environmentally sustainable over the next two years.
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 had been developed at a time when consumers and investors were increasingly asking for evidence of ethical and sustainable practices from their food producers.
"It promotes sustainable and responsible care for our natural environment and provides a vital roadmap for a stronger Australian farming future," Mr Brand said.
Almond Board of Australia market development manager Joseph Ebbage said sustainability was important to customers both domestically and internationally.
"Our trade partners in Europe and in the UK are looking for suppliers that can meet sustainability metrics, so 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."
Shane Quinn, from vegetable producer Mulgowie Farming Company, said the framework was a useful resource for industry.
"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.
The framework was developed over more than 12 months and involved input from producers, employees, industry peak bodies, service and input suppliers, and researchers. Financiers, investors, marketers, 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 among the most important issues.
The next step is to measure the current performance against each indicator identified in the framework.
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The story Horticulture sector releases game plan to tap into sustainable markets first appeared on Farm Online.