Episode 224: Raina Nelson and Johnathan Sutton

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Westfalia Fruit is known around the world for their incredible, healthy, fresh avocados. They have the largest avocado-growing footprint in the world, plus grow fruits like mangoes, kiwis, limes, oranges, litchis, clementines, grapes, coconuts, pomegranates, cherries… the list goes on and on! What’s most phenomenal about Westfalia other than their extensive range of produce is their commitment to sustainability. The company aims to be 100% carbon-neutral by 2049, which is also their 100th birthday.

Westfalia was founded over 70 years ago by Dr. Hans Merensky, who acquired an almost irreparable estate in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. “Dr. Merensky was a very gifted prospector, an acclaimed and dedicated humanitarian, and a huge part of the good we do today… it’s in our fiber and our heritage,” Raina Nelson, President and CEO of Westfalia Fruit USA says. Dr. Merensky was dedicated to improving his Westfalia Estate’s resources by conserving water and revitalizing the soil. These regenerative farming practices are the foundation for what Westfalia lies on today, and at the time helped the local economy by providing community relief thanks to growing avocados and using water conservation infrastructure.

“The concept of regenerative farming and regenerative agriculture practices is the foundation upon which Westfalia has been built on.” Lori Taylor (6:05-6:15)

Not familiar with the term regenerative farming? Regenerative farming comes from indigenous wisdom and offers a framework to grow food in harmony with nature while restoring the land from depletion, exploitation and harmful farming practices. Those that follow regenerative farming principles understand what the natural resource availability is, aim to eliminate the use of harmful chemicals, work to integrate animals back onto their agricultural land and prioritize soil health. Keeping the soil healthy is what ensures growers produce nutrient dense, great tasting produce while helping heal the Earth.

Westfalia is focused on using as little water as possible, keeping the rest of the plants and animals on the planet in mind who need water which is a finite resource we’re quickly running out of. They’re also focused on reducing waste by ensuring their byproducts are used to create healthy ones, specifically in the cosmetic industry.

One way Westfalia does this is by creating health products using the skins and the stones (the pit) of their avocados. These stones are ground up and used to replace microplastics that are found far too often in cosmetics. At the end of the day, it costs more money to throw things away, not just for the company but for the rest of the world who has to deal with landfills and the energy expenditure that comes with. Plus, consumers are hungry for cosmetics that have as little plastics in them as possible.  Episode 224 quote graphic Westfalia is certainly on track to hit their 2049 target of being carbon neutral! They’re looking at how to reduce their carbon footprint within their shipping partners and any other ways to use their resources as efficiently as possible. Recently, Westfalia found that five of their business units were carbon neutral and they are pushing for everything from the fertilizer, the packaging, the supply chain and more to become completely carbon neutral. Plus, in France, all of their products are supplied in cardboard, and they’ve gotten rid of plastic! Add in Westfalia’s efforts to use biological pesticides instead of chemical ones and you’ve got one of the most impactful, sustainable, healthy companies in the produce industry making a massive dent in saving our planet. 

Enjoy Westfalia Fruits’ amazing avocados at your local grocery retailer and visit www.westfaliafruit.com to learn more about their sustainability efforts! 

How to get involved

  • Join The Produce Moms Group on Facebook and continue the discussion every week!
  • Reach out to us – we’d love to hear more about where you are in life and business! Find out more here.

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About Lori

Lori Taylor is the Founder & CEO of The Produce Moms. For ten years she sold fresh produce to over 300 grocery stores throughout the United States, and today she is fully focused on working with the produce supply chain, media, and government to increase fresh produce access & consumption in the US and around the globe. Connect with Lori on LinkedIn.

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