The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Sustainability Series: Califia Farms

Sustainability Series: Califia Farms


June 23, 2013

Califia Farms was founded in 2010 by the growers of Cuties tangerines, and today they make Cutie Juices and Smoothies, as well as several flavors of Almondmilk and Iced Coffee with Almondmilk. Headed by Odwalla founder Greg Steltenpohl, the company produces all of its products locally in California. We talked to Steltenpohl about the importance of creating products that both consumers and manufacturers can feel good about.

How does your business define sustainability?

Our business believes that being a sustainable company means being a responsible steward of our land, resources and environment. We want to make sure that the generations to come are able to live in a healthy and safe environment, and that’s why we’ve embedded sustainability into every aspect of our operations. At our core, we want to make products that our consumers can truly feel good about drinking.

How are you incorporating sustainable practices into your business?

In designing our plant, every effort was made to provide the equipment and manufacturing practices that not only supply the highest quality juice, but also to have the most efficient and sustainable operations available, such as:

  • Heat Recovery Systems: Wherever heating and cooling exist in the same process, we have installed heat exchangers to capture 80% to 90% of the available heat regeneration.
  • Highly Efficient Evaporator: We have the maximum number of effects available (7) maximizing efficiency, decreasing our total energy consumption (typical evaporators in the San Joaquin Valley are only 3 and 5 effect).
  • Low Emissions/Economical Boiler: Our boiler was installed with primary and secondary economizers, as well as an ultra low emissions burner and controls system that exceed current air quality standards.
  • Reduced Lighting: Skylights in the packaging area allow us to turn off the majority of the area lighting during sunny days. The majority of the area lighting in the plant is activated by motion sensors and uses high efficiency lighting fixtures for a targeted 20-25% reduction in lighting energy costs.
  • Water Reuse: We re-use juice condensate water as the preliminary fruit wash water. All of the process wastewater is able to be re-used as irrigation water on the crops surrounding the plant.
  • Efficient Motors: Our electric motors are premium efficiency and the majority of them are on frequency drives.
  • Recycled Equipment: We have installed reconditioned fruit handling equipment where practical, versus buying newly fabricated equipment.
  • Reduced Over-the-Road Emissions: Our plant is strategically located adjacent to the fruit-packing house reducing the truck trip miles to deliver fruit to the processor compared to the historical average.
  • Reduced Cold Storage Space: We are taking advantage of existing cold storage seasonality in the adjacent fruit packinghouse instead of building and operating redundant cold storage facilities.
  • Efficient Utility Runs: Our plant layout is strategically positioned to put the utilities in the closest possible proximity to the heavy usage equipment to keep line loss as low as possible, while also keeping construction materials at a minimum.

What are your short term and long term goals?

We have a long-term packaging sustainability goal of achieving 100% Recyclable Packaging made with 100% Recycled Materials.

We have a long-term goal of increasing our water recycling by 50%.

Waste: We will be installing in-house plastics recycling by the end of 2013.

Bees: We have made a substantial financial commitment to the Xerces project to support Bee biodiodiversity and actively organize industry meetings and focus around preventing Colony Collapse Disorder.

Where do you think you’ll have the biggest impact?

Sustainable health for human beings by producing nutrient rich, plant-based healthy products with less sugar, less chemicals and artificial ingredients and by utilizing substantially less natural resources by substituting for large scale dairy operations.  

How do you measure your progress?

We have committed to an environmental impact assessment process every 2 years.

How do retailers factor into your efforts?

We regularly review our packaging use and footprint with our major retailers (Walmart, Target, Whole Foods, Safeway).

We are proud of our partnerships with retailers who are prioritizing sustainability, like Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods has made a public commitment to help protect pollinators from extinction, an important initiative for our industry and our planet.

Why are sustainable business practices important to the food industry?

Sustainable practices are important to us because we’re all in it together; the food industry has to share its supply and resources, and unless every manufacturer prioritizes sustainability, we will continue to see environmental changes impact our agricultural yields and growing conditions. We want to create products that consumers can truly feel good about drinking, and we believe that other responsible food and beverage manufacturers should want to do the same.

Why are sustainable business practices important to the consumer?

Green-conscious consumers want to support businesses that are reducing their environmental impact. Consumers want products that don’t compromise on quality ingredients, that are good for their bodies, and that don’t harm the planet. Consumers value recyclable products that they can also re-use and re-purpose in their own lives, so that they don’t have to feel like they are contributing to more waste.