German retailer Edeka is teaming up with WWF in an agricultural project to offer sustainable oranges and mandarins for the German market, sourced from select Andalucian farms.
The project involves introducing methods to significantly reduce the amount of pesticides used on plantations, as well as encouraging greater biodiversity and water saving measures.
As the citrus season takes hold, the German supermarket company says that it is pursuing innovative techniques to reduce chemical pollution on citrus fruit plantations.
Edeka is now selling oranges with the WWF panda logo, and will soon add it to its mandarins too. According to the company website, chemical pollution by pesticides has already been reduced by two thirds per hectare.
“With this project we are showing ways to increase environmental sustainability with the conventional cultivation of oranges," said Rolf Lange, head of corporate communication at Edeka.
Instead of pesticides, the growers taking part in the project are using softer methods, such as introducing ladybirds, which destroy plant-lice.
The ladybirds may leave track marks on the skin of the fruit yielded from those crops. However, Silja Marschke, Project Coordinator at WWF, is confident that customers will look past that.
“Small differences on the peel don’t compromise the quality of the fruit. We believe that consumers won’t be bothered by a beauty spot on the peel - especially not when the use of insecticide was reduced in the process,” said Marschke.
The environmentally friendly methods benefit the local fauna. Targeted placement of hedges, green spaces and nesting sites have enabled more space for local animals such as otters and the black kite bird.
The orange growers also analyse and reduce their use of fresh water, a valuable resource in the region.
WWF started advising Edeka in 2009 on protecting the oceans and encouraging a more sustainable fishing industry. Since 2012, they have developed their cooperation into a more comprehensive and long-term partnership.
© 2017 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Kevin Duggan. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.