The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

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

Sustainability Series: Odwalla

Sustainability Series: Odwalla


August 28, 2011

Founded in Santa Cruz, California in 1980 as a small, fresh-squeezed juice company, Odwalla's range of products today includes a variety of juices, smoothies, organic beverages and food bars. A wholly owned subsidiary of The Coca Cola Company since 2001, Odwalla continues to focus on their original mission of nourishing people while respecting their consumers and the environment. We talked to Irma Shrivastava, Vice President Marketing for Odwalla, Inc., about how Odwalla strives for excellence from farm to table.

How does your business define sustainability?

We believe sustainability is a commitment to the environment that extends from our employees to our products. This commitment affects everything we do and includes a responsibility to support and engage the communities where we do business.

How are you incorporating sustainable practices into your business?

Odwalla's environmental commitment begins with our manufacturing process that ensures we minimize waste in production. Of the 143 million pounds of citrus and other material that comes into the Odwalla plant in Dinuba, less than one percent goes into a landfill.

We also recently partnered with Bloom Energy to install fuel cell technology at our Dinuba plant. The fuel cells have 500kW of generating capacity and use redirected biogas, which is 100 percent renewable energy, as fuel supply.

And, of course, it is important to us that our bottles, which are made from PlantBottle™ packaging, are fully recyclable, including the caps.

What are your short term and long term goals?

One of our short term goals is reaching the $450,000 donation mark later this year in our Plant a Tree program. In 2008, we partnered with America's State Parks to launch the program which helps state parks systems with important reforestation and planting initiatives. By the end of this year's program, which marks the fourth consecutive summer the program has been active, we will have donated $450,000 worth of trees.

Long term, we are striving to reach $2.9 million in energy savings by 2021 thanks to our recently installed fuel cell technology in our Dinuba, CA plant. We also look forward to expanding our leadership in sustainability as we work to implement new sustainable agriculture projects that can improve fruit and soil quality. 

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

All of our environmental initiatives have positive impacts in different ways, so it is difficult to single one out as having the largest impact. We believe in incorporating sustainable practices throughout everything we do. For example, in April, we transitioned all of our single-serve bottles to PlantBottle™ packaging made up of 100% plant-based materials, which will have a significant positive impact on our business.

This new PlantBottle™ packaging reduces our dependence on fossil fuels, will save an estimated 8,000 barrels of oil per year, not to mention that it also is sustainably resourced from sugar cane in Brazil that requires little to no irrigation and does not threaten the rainforest. 

How do you measure your progress?

We measure progress in different ways for all of our sustainable initiatives with the overall goal to reduce our carbon footprint. At the manufacturing level, for example, we monitor the CO2 reductions provided by our newly installed fuel cells and track the energy savings from our energy-efficient lighting. And through initiatives such as the Odwalla Plant a Tree program, we measure success based on the number of trees planted in state parks across the country.

How do retailers factor into your efforts?

We always keep our retail partners in mind when we make new business decisions related to sustainability. It is important to our partners that the products they sell are made using sustainable business practices.

Why are sustainable business practices important to the food industry?

It is extremely important that we, along with all of our partners in the food industry, continue to innovate in order to incorporate sustainable practices into our business. Odwalla relies on the earth for the ingredients we use to create our nourishing beverages and bars, so we need to ensure we are respecting the earth every step of the way. 

Why are sustainable business practices important to the consumer?

Odwalla began with three key principles: make great juice, do good things for the community and build a business with heart, which we still live by 30 years later. This mission really resonates with people and includes integrating sustainable business practices throughout everything we do.


In upcoming issues, we will feature interviews with food companies that are making strides in their sustainability efforts. If you are interested in telling us more about what your company is doing to get involved please contact Allison Bloom