Soft drinks giant Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) announced on Wednesday that all sugar used in its non-alcoholic drinks in Australia will now be sourced only from local growers that follow sustainable production practices.
CCA’s sugar purchases from now to 2021 will come from Bonsucro and Smartcane Best Management Practice (BMP). Both brands’ production frameworks aim to increase on-farm productivity while reducing environmental and social risks.
Group managing director Alison Watkins said that the move to sustainably accredited sugar has a good impact to the environment and is also a good commercial decision for the company.
“We’ve switched to sustainably accredited [sugar]. We have responsibilities to the community on resource use and renewal, and we’ve also heard customer feedback in favour of greater sustainability in the products we sell. The switch to sustainably accredited sugar is a step forward for our overall operations, and also in meeting that customer demand,” Watkins said.
CCA’s decision means it will only source sugar from farms that have decreased herbicides and pesticide use per hectare; prohibitions on some herbicide and pesticide use in sugar production; reduced water use in sugarcane growing and milling and natural systems management to protect adjacent wetlands and waterways and reduce runoff into sensitive areas.
Canegrowers chairman Paul Schembri said the Smartcane BMP program achieves productivity and profitability gains for growers along with environmental improvements.
“Already more than 70 per cent of Queensland’s sugarcane area is in this program of adopting best practice on farm and we want more growers to come on board. It involves things like assessing soil condition to tailor fertiliser applications and reducing soil disturbance. Often these practices save input costs and boost yield as well as avoid downstream impacts on the Great Barrier Reef,” Schembri said.
Sugar Research Australia said the Smartcane BMP program could benefit growers by between A$25 and A$220 per hectare per year.