During the last summer campaign, Spain produced 475,051 tons of tomatoes and in the coming months it is expected to reach 1.2 million tons of this vegetable. The fields of Andalusia, Almería and Extremadura are the territory of this red fruit which gives color to many dishes and is essential to the Mediterranean diet. However, drought and pests harm their production. “Climate change presents a big challenge for food companies, but also an opportunity to strengthen our commitment to sustainability,” says David Shaw, global director of ESG at Heinz. Most of the tomatoes used in their products come from Spanish gardens, particularly Extremadura. “We are working to improve cultivation techniques and harvest quality to maintain optimal conditions,” he adds.

-How does climate change impact your business?

-Climate change may have a significant impact on our business, and we can see early signs of this impact on several fronts. First, climate variability directly affects our crops and, therefore, the availability and quality of key ingredients in our products. Droughts, floods and seasonal changes can alter the production and availability of these ingredients. Additionally, consumer demand and awareness of climate change reinforce the need for more sustainable management in our operations. We are actively working to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, manage natural resources efficiently and use sustainable agricultural methods as part of our sustainability strategy. Climate change represents a great challenge for food companies, but also an opportunity to strengthen our commitment to sustainability, to continue to be responsible towards the environment and towards the needs of our consumers.

-What is the company’s roadmap in terms of sustainable development?

-We focus on several key aspects of sustainability. Firstly, we are committed to improving the health of the soils we work with, recognizing their importance both to us as growers and to the environment as a whole. Additionally, we have made significant changes to our packaging, such as introducing fully recyclable bottles, including innovative technology to remove the silicone valve from our caps, and exploring alternative material options to reduce waste. impact of packaging on our environment. We have set a goal of achieving net zero emissions across our entire value chain by 2050 and halving them by 2030, reflecting our responsibility in tackling climate change.

-Where are the tomatoes grown that the Spanish would later use in ketchup?

-Spain is precisely the paradise of tomato ketchup, it offers the ideal conditions for growing our sun-ripened tomatoes and the Badajoz region has always been a growing area. The Vázquez family, owners of Conesa, have been growing tomatoes with us for more than three generations. We work with them to improve growing techniques and crop quality, and together we have implemented key improvements to maintain optimal conditions for growing high-quality tomatoes.

-In Spain, agriculture is suffering from drought. What projects do you have?

-We have worked closely to implement soil restoration practices, such as tillage and cover cropping. As a result, we have significantly increased the topsoil and the quantity of tomatoes in the Vázquez family’s fields. These efforts yielded notable results, improving soil organic matter and significantly increasing tomato yields. At first we tested these practices only in four fields, but today 100% of Heinz tomato farms in Spain apply cover crops.

-What is your company’s water footprint? How are they trying to reduce it?

-As for Heinz’s water footprint, it is a key aspect of our approach to sustainable development and we are taking concrete steps to reduce it. Our goals include a 20% reduction in water use intensity in high-risk watersheds and a 15% reduction in our manufacturing facilities. These objectives reflect our commitment to the sustainable management of natural resources, including water, and demonstrate our interest in reducing our environmental footprint in all phases of our value chain.

-In their ESG agenda they state that in 2022 they will create a fully circular Heinz tomato ketchup bottle. What percentage of your packaging is circular?

-The long-term goal is that by 2025, 100% of our packaging will be recyclable, reusable or compostable. Additionally, we aim for at least 30% of the materials used to come from recycled materials. But that’s not all: together with Pulpex, we have been testing alternative material options as part of ongoing efforts to meet our most recent commitment to reduce virgin plastic from fossil fuels by 30%. here 2030.

-When will we see plastic disappear from your business?

-At Heinz, we are committed to improving the environmental footprint of our packaging, including circularity, carbon footprint and disposal. We launched a commitment to an absolute 30% reduction in virgin plastic by 2030, designed to reduce our dependence on plastics made from fossil fuels.

-What materials are you working on to replace it?

-One of the key partnerships we established last year was with Pulpex, an innovator in paper packaging. With their collaboration, we have developed a paper bottle which is undoubtedly a big step forward in our efforts to reduce the use of plastic in our packaging. It is made from 100% sustainably sourced wood pulp, ensuring that it comes from renewable sources. It is also renewable and recyclable, which significantly reduces its environmental impact.

-What happens to the food waste generated by your business? Where do they move? what do you do with them?

-The best thing is that it was originally a solution to food waste, as overripe or underripe tomatoes were used and blended to create the product we now know and love. Since then, Heinz has optimized tomatoes used to make ketchup and other tomato products to eliminate food waste on farms. Our factory in Elst (Netherlands) recently obtained zero discharge certification, since the minimum quantity of waste generated is recycled, reused or recovered.

-By the way, how did the idea of ​​bringing sustainability to Fortnite come about?

-This idea is born from our desire to educate and connect with a broader and more diverse audience, particularly the 18-34 year old generation. We recognized that, in an increasingly digital world, video games provide a powerful platform to reach this audience. Our mission was to educate this audience about the current state of soil health and encourage positive environmental change. By partnering with Fortnite, we were able to deliver a serious message that resonated with players and made them aware of the importance of taking care of our floors. It was an innovative way to connect with a younger audience.

-What is the goal ? What reception did he receive?

-The objective of this initiative was twofold. First of all, we wanted to raise awareness and spread awareness about the importance of keeping our soils healthy. Soil health is essential to food production and the well-being of the planet, and we wanted to effectively convey this message to a younger audience. Second, we implemented a soil health program for growers to improve soil quality and health. We provide financial contributions to farmers to promote the use of regenerative agricultural practices through our “Soil Health Program,” which includes practices such as cover crops, crop rotation and composting.