Sustainability Series: Beech-Nut
September 24, 2014
Headquartered in Amsterdam, New York, Beech-Nut is the number two leading baby food brand in the United States. Producing baby food since 1931, Beech-Nut Nutrition Company is a subsidiary of Hero AG of Lenzburg, Switzerland, and a global leader in consumer goods, infant feeding and infant nutrition. We talked to Andy Dahlen, VP of Marketing and Sales at Beech-Nut, about the growing demand for natural foods, local sourcing and transparency.
How does your business define sustainability?
Sustainability and green living are central to Beech-Nut's mission of caring for families and children. Our products are made with fresh fruits and veggies that come from the earth, so we value sustainability and having a positive environmental impact. Beech-Nut is all about transparency and honesty – and that holds true when it comes to our environmental impact.
How are you incorporating sustainable practices into your business?
By using less energy and water, Beech-Nut conserves resources for families, businesses and taxpayers, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and contributes to a healthier earth for future generations.
More specifically, in regard to water, each year, our plant saves as much energy as would typically be consumed by more than 2,000 people. What we save in water equals the water consumption of a city of 10,000 people. Our plant’s open floor plan allows natural light to flow through the building, reducing our energy usage.
We love to recycle as well. Our food waste is used as compost at a local farm. The natural overages and waste generated during production are supplied to a local farmer, who uses the compost as natural fertilizer for his land. And most of our food comes in glass jars, making recycling easy for our consumers as well.
Beech-Nut is also proud to be the world’s first LEED® certified baby food production facility. This means we're committed to doing what we do in a "green" building that's designed, constructed and operated in an environmentally friendly way.
What are your short term and long term goals?
Beech-Nut would like to continue to source ingredients locally and do more of it. Currently, 98% of the ingredients for the new Beech-Nut line are sourced from North America, and more than 30% of our ingredients budget is spent in New York state.
Some of Beech-Nut’s squash, for example, is locally grown just 20 minutes from Beech-Nut headquarters. Some of our red beets are grown in New York as well.
Where do you think you’ll have the biggest impact?
We think our commitment to glass will have the biggest impact on sustainability.
In addition to our ingredients, the glass and labels for our jars are also manufactured in our home state of New York. Glass is the ultimate in sustainability and is endlessly recyclable. Glass is open, honest and transparent. It lets you see exactly what your baby is eating and since it’s made from pure, natural minerals, it doesn’t interact with your food at all.
How do you measure your progress?
We are building upon our legacy of quality, nutritious and delicious foods that parents can trust and babies can enjoy. We expect the new Beech-Nut to grow the category and our business – putting us on the path for future growth as well. This is “just” the beginning!
Why are sustainable business practices important to the food industry?
As the food industry continues to veer away from processed foods, more and more natural foods will be in demand. Protecting our environment is vital to the industry, as it will allow us to continue to source the best (and brightest!) fruits and vegetables for decades to come.