Dole Europe MD on company’s drive for zero fruit waste

By Jerome Smail

- Last updated on GMT

Spindler-Jacobs: 'We want to give one billion people access to good nutrition, and how we are going to do that is through sharing knowledge'
Spindler-Jacobs: 'We want to give one billion people access to good nutrition, and how we are going to do that is through sharing knowledge'

Related tags: Food waste

Dole Packaged Foods is on a mission to cut food waste and achieve zero fruit loss by 2025, according to Isabelle Spindler-Jacobs, VP and MD Europe.

“We want zero food loss at our site where we produce, but also in the whole chain, right up to the consumer,”​ she says.

The commitment is part of Dole’s drive to ‘change from a packaged fruit company to a health and nutrition company’, Spindler-Jacobs added. She believes Dole’s plans address a key issue in the food manufacturing industry.

“There's a lot of food waste in general but especially for fruits,”​ she says. “It’s terrible because on one hand, people don't have enough food, and on the other hand, ​[the industry has] fruit and food waste.”

Nutrition gap

Spindler-Jacobs says Dole also wants to ‘decrease the gaps between good food and people’, by giving one billion people access to good nutrition.

“We see a lot of inequity in the world nowadays, and one out of every five children does not have access to good food,”​ she explains.

“We want to give one billion people access to good nutrition, and how we are going to do that is through sharing knowledge. Awareness is important, but also availability, so it needs to be clear where people can access good food. Affordability is also important in this respect.”

Dole promise

Dole’s motivation for its health and nutrition drive is threefold, said Spindler-Jacobs: “It's better for our consumers, it's better for the planet and better for the stakeholders.”

The company’s leadership team has set out its intentions in the form of ‘the Dole promise’, comprising six commitments, including vows on zero fruit loss and giving one billion people access to good nutrition.

Another of Dole’s bold ambitions is to achieve zero processed sugar in all its products by 2025. “It may not seem as a big promise, but it is,” ​says Spindler-Jacobs.

However, she also admitted that the company ‘[doesn’t] know exactly how to do it’. “But we think it's important to say it out loud, to find partners, to find new technologies, to find the right people and support and to do it,”​ she says. “We want to stimulate other organisations and people to come up with solutions.”

The same goes for another of the company’s commitments: zero fossil-based plastic packaging.

“We need to come up with other solutions, and we absolutely need to transition to a circular economy. Again, from a technical point of view, we don’t have all the answers at this point, but we are working on it.”

Stakeholder focus

Carbon neutral operations and shared value for all stakeholders make up the remaining ‘Dole promise’ commitments.

On the latter, Spindler-Jacobs says: “Everything we do should be better for our stakeholders – explicitly not shareholders, but stakeholders. It should be better for every stakeholder of Dole – from customers to people working for us in the fields, consumers, everybody. We need to create a better future together. That’s something we really believe in.”

Although the methods in achieving the goals seem nebulous at present, Spindler-Jacobs insists recent Dole developments show the company is heading in the right direction.

“As an example, last year, we introduced the Utterly Fruit Jelly, which has zero processed sugar,” ​she says. “It doesn’t have any artificial sweeteners, it’s made with fruit juice, and on top of that, the taste is really good.

“The packaging also reflects the direction Dole is heading in, because it’s 98% recyclable for the cups, and we are working on that last 2%.”

Undeterred

Spindler-Jacobs insisted the twin disruptors of Brexit and COVID-19 have not dented Dole’s strategy for 2021. The UK is the company’s biggest market in Europe, and also its ‘focus market’, she said.

“We are the proud category leaders in the fruit in juice and fruit in jelly, with the segment share of over 60% of the market. We want to build on that.”

Spindler-Jacobs also believes the pandemic has made consumers more aware of their health and the kind of nutrition they take in. “They’re giving more attention to good food, giving more thoughts on how they can stay healthy, which foods give better immunity for viruses, colds and diseases. And I believe that's here to stay.

“So that's something that I'm positive about, because a healthy way of living is important for everybody – not only to stay healthy, but also to feel better.”

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