World leaders in sustainability

New Zealand’s food and beverage industry has been creating a climate change of its own, setting a greening benchmark for the world.

The country’s food and beverage industry, highly esteemed worldwide for freshness and flavour, is now focusing more than ever before on its commitment to sustainability.

By 2010 all of the country’s wines will be required to participate in an independently audited sustainability scheme if they are to take part in the NZ Winegrowers’ global marketing programme, and by 2012 the aim is for all NZ grapes and wine to be produced under independently audited sustainability schemes.

NZ wine is contained in bottles from an estimated 66% recycled glass and wrapped in recyclable packaging from sustainable forests. The industry is pioneering a scheme to use the endangered NZ falcon to scare away birds that peck the grapes.

2008 FOOD Challenge Awards Winner, and the first fresh meal manufacturer in the world to become carbon neutral, Pitango has implemented an internationally recognised carboNZero programme, boasting an emissions’ management strategy that reaches all aspects of production, distribution and administration.

Meat is a cornerstone of the NZ economy with the sheep and beef industries having already achieved the targets set by the Kyoto Protocol. Emissions are now 17% below 1990 emissions – despite an increase of more than 12% in production.

The NZ meat industry is committed to reducing its impact on the environment, with more than $30m investment over the next five years in pastoral greenhouse gas emission reduction, including research into a sheep and cow vaccine to immunise the animals against the organisms in their stomachs that produce methane.

NZ is also recognised as a world leader in fisheries management, with rigorous mechanisms and controls in place for managing quotas, ensuring sustainable harvests and continual renewal of ocean habitats.

In 2007 the Minister of Fisheries allocated more than $4 million to securing inter-national sustainability certification for NZ’s entire fisheries.

NZ Greenshell mussels, highly regarded around the world and distinguished by their emerald green shell markings and distinctive green lip, seal in their flavour without the use of additives such as fertilizer, herbicide, pesticides or artificial foods.

Enviro-Mark NZ is an environmental management system marketed and supported throughout NZ by Landcare Research. The company provides the country’s food and beverage businesses with a framework to systematically assess their performance against agreed global standards of sustainability for health, safety and the environment standards.

An example of the milestones achieved so far can be found in the fact that the proportion of NZ food and beverage companies certified to International Organisation for Standardisation standards is one of the highest in the world. At the same time, two of NZ’s organic certifications, BioGro and AgriQuality, have been approved under the US Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Programme.

It would seem that the island nation has truly managed the perfect marriage of great taste and commitment to sustainability and living green.

Pitango Innovative Cuisine

  • became the world’s first carbon neutral fresh meal manufacturer through the carboNZero programme;
  • implemented an emissions management strategy with the aim to reduce its carbon footprint;
  • have made the most of a unique opportunity to educate consumers on their indirect role in making a difference to cleaning up the environment.

Phoenix Organics

  • joined the GreenFleet programme, reducing vehicle emissions to save around $30,000 annually;
  • chose glass for packaging as it can be recycled;
  • use vegetable-based inks as much as possible in all packaging;
  • source paper and cardboard for labels and packaging from a sustainable mill;
  • collect rainwater from the roof of their factory to use for the pasteuriser, where it’s safe to do so, and not in contact with food.

King Salmon

  • became the only salmon in the world that doesn’t use any antibiotics in rearing;
  • use fish farming as a highly efficient use of marine space;
  • constantly monitor the environmental impact of operations to ensure the good health and productivity of salmon, as well as making certain that farms are not significantly affecting surrounding water quality or the natural marine ecosystems;
  • have installed state-of-the-art feed control equipment, making more efficient use of feed and reducing any adverse environmental effects of waste drifting from the sea cages;
  • make every effort to use resources and energy efficiently and responsibly and to minimise or recycle waste.


  • have integrated the traceability from orchard to retail shelf, committing the company, its growers and suppliers to health of the environment, the people who produce and handle the kiwifruit, and those who eat the products;
  • introduced a full traceability system in 2000, meaning fruit can be traced from orchard to retailer, with the system remaining a world-leading environmental management system.

New Zealand Wine Company

  • became the first winemakers in the world to achieve carboNZero certification in 2006;
  • produce UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s house brand, largely as a result of becoming carboNZero certified;
  • now have their products stocked by Tesco, Wholefoods and Thresher, and produce carboNZero Marlborough wines for the Thresher ethical brand Origin;
  • identified and implemented significant packaging changes to reduce waste and save on overseas freight costs, sourcing lighter wine bottles and thinner glass, allowing the use of smaller cartons, fitting more on a pallet;
  • established vineyards planted in longer rows, reducing the number of times the tractor needs to turn around; and consequently reducing the diesel consumption per hectare.

    — Tim Green is the regional director of AusPac.

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