NEW YORK, Aug. 25, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, KIND Healthy Snacks (KIND) announced its commitment to become the first snack company to exclusively source its almonds from bee-friendly farmland across the globe by 2025. Almonds are the lead ingredient in most of KIND's 80+ products and the company's number one ingredient by both volume and spend. By collaborating directly with farmers, suppliers, researchers and other leading brands, KIND aims to significantly expand the usage of bee-friendly practices among almond farmers. As a baseline, KIND is expecting its almond suppliers to reserve 3-5% of their farmland for dedicated pollinator habitat to support bees, butterflies and other pollinators. In addition, KIND has worked with its suppliers to eliminate any use of neonicotinoids and chlorpyrifos, two pesticide treatments that are thought to be harmful to pollinators.
"We have been energized and inspired by the leadership demonstrated by some of our peers and partners to more actively protect pollinators. We are also incredibly proud that many of our almond suppliers have led the way, proving that incorporating more bee-friendly practices is not just good for pollinators, but also good for business," said Daniel Lubetzky, KIND's Founder and Executive Chairman. "But we can do more to make these practices central to the way the almond industry does business. While we know we can't do it alone, we are proud to lend our voice and scale to call for this much needed change."
California currently produces the vast majority of the world's almonds, with nearly 1.53 million acres dedicated to almond orchards.1 However, only a small fraction of that acreage – estimated at less than 20,000 acres – is verified as bee-friendly. In setting this ambition, KIND, which sources 1-2% of the world's almonds, hopes to significantly increase the availability of almonds grown on bee-friendly farmland. Bees are critical to the production of a variety of nutritious foods, pollinating about a third of the food supply.2
"This commitment from KIND to increase pollinator habitat on almond orchards will provide substantial, long-term environmental benefits for soil health, water retention and regional biodiversity in California'sCentral Valley," said Daniel Kaiser, Director of Conservation Strategies at Environmental Defense Fund. "This initiative is just the type of supply chain signal that can facilitate farmer adoption of practices that will bolster the resilience of their orchards."
Research suggests a variety of factors are impacting bee health, including poor nutrition due to unvaried habitats and pesticide exposure.3 In the last several years, interest in protecting pollinators has gained significant momentum among the food industry, including the creation of farm-level verification and certification programs that help to increase pollinator habitat and restrict pesticide use. As the marketplace for bee-friendly almonds further develops, KIND will rely on a hybrid approach, using both the currently available certification and verification programs, as well as exploring new methods, to validate its suppliers' practices.
"KIND's global commitment to ensure all their almonds come from pollinator-friendly farms shows that industry can make substantial steps to protect pollinators at scale," said Simon Potts, Professor of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services at the University of Reading, UK and co-chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services' Global Pollinator Assessment. "This move will not only benefit the environment, but also growers and consumers."
The KIND Foundation will also make a $150,000 investment in the Williams Lab at the University of California, Davis to help answer critical questions about bee health and track the efficacy of these farm-level improvements. "As an agricultural community, we need to make real change to ensure long-term bee health. KIND's commitment to bee-friendly practices in its supply chain is the sort of actionable approach that will move the dial toward more sustainable practices industry-wide," said Neal Williams, Professor of Entomology at the University of California, Davis. "To pair this commitment with support from The KIND Foundation for research is forward-looking and shows an understanding of how to promote further practical innovation to benefit bees."
Water scarcity is another key issue facing California almond farmers. The almond farmer community in the United States, led by the Almond Board of California, has successfully reduced the amount of water used to grow a pound of almonds by 33% in the last two decades4 and is committed to further reducing that figure by an additional 20% leading up to 2025.5 KIND's suppliers and their farmers have set new standards for water conservation through sophisticated irrigation systems and water management technologies used to promote healthy growth and minimize tree stress. These practices help to increase yield at harvest, use water more efficiently and identify risk to crops in real time.
This announcement coincides with two other milestones for KIND. The company recently signed the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's New Plastics Economy Global Commitment. In line with the Foundation's vision for a circular economy for plastic, KIND will aspire to reach 100% recyclability, compostability, or reusability across all its plastic packaging by 2025, while also reducing its use of single-use plastic overall.
Additionally, by the end of 2020, KIND will purchase enough renewable energy credits to cover their US offices and manufacturing sites and in 2021 will begin to integrate renewable energy sources into its direct operations.
About KIND Healthy Snacks Since 2004, KIND has been on a mission to create a kinder and healthier world – one snack and one act at a time. Its iconic KIND® bars – made with real, recognizable ingredients – sparked the growth of an entirely new healthy snacking category. Today, KIND has a family of more than 80 snacks that offer solutions for a variety of occasions. All of KIND's products lead with a nutrient-dense first ingredient – whole nuts, whole grains or whole fruit – and do not contain genetically engineered ingredients, sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners.
Inspired by the belief that acts of kindness can be a transformative force for good, both the KIND brand and The KIND Foundation seek to inspire kindness and empathy.
KIND is majority founder- and team-owned, and every full-time team member has a stake in the company. To learn more about KIND, visit kindsnacks.com.