NatureSweet, the number one tomato brand and leading greenhouse-grown produce company, has earned B Corporation Certification (B Corp), becoming the most significant Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) company in the world to do so.
The company has achieved this distinction due to more than 30 years of transforming the lives of agricultural workers in North America. The company is driven by the conviction that doing the right thing and building a business model grounded on treating people with dignity is not in conflict but the reason for its success. NatureSweet pursued the B Corp certification to invite the $80 billion fresh produce industry to make the well-being of workers and their communities a cornerstone for growth.
“For more than three decades, NatureSweet has revolutionised the fresh produce industry with the best tasting and highest quality products,” said Rodolfo Spielmann, President and CEO of NatureSweet.
“Our success comes directly from having the most committed and experienced workers growing and packing our produce.”
Spielmann continued that NatureSweet created a model in which every Associate can earn a better income based on their effort while providing education, psychological support, and healthcare services.
“We are the largest CEA company that is Fair Trade Certified, Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) Certified, and now B Corp Certified. I am incredibly proud of our team has accomplishments and look forward to strengthening our efforts. We hope our impact goes beyond NatureSweet and serves as a roadmap for the industry.”
The company’s first-time certification score of 114 points is 34 points above the minimum requirement. The proof that the NatureSweet model is working lies in the superior quality of the fruits and vegetables it cultivates and its less than one percent turnover rate, which is extremely low in the agricultural industry. To become B Corp Certified, NatureSweet met rigorous benchmarks in several categories, including Workers, Community, Customers, Environment, and Governance. Below are a few noteworthy highlights:
NatureSweet is committed to transforming an industry that has yet to historically place its workers at the centre or treat them as the most precious driver for success. NatureSweet has created income sustainability for its workers by paying them more than double the minimum wage in Mexico. They earn almost 40 percent above the median wage of agricultural workers in Mexico and approximately 25 percent above the median wage of its main competitors. NatureSweet agricultural workers can earn up to 300 percent in bonus compensation.
In 2022, 75 percent of NatureSweet agricultural workers earned livable wages, giving them better housing, education, and healthcare access. These wages are 53 percent above the average agricultural compensation in Mexico.
As a Fair Trade Certified company, NatureSweet has an employee-run fund (the Fair Trade Premium) that generates millions of dollars annually and supports community development initiatives such as improved education, access to quality health services, accommodations, development projects, and other essential services. In prioritising the authority of its Associates, NatureSweet created systems that cultivate employee leadership and accountability within greenhouses. When associates take ownership of their work, they are happier, which translates into higher-quality outputs.
NatureSweet also created an educational program so agricultural workers can learn how to read and write and earn their elementary, middle, and high school diplomas. By the end of 2023, more than 2,000 employees will have benefitted from the program.
NatureSweet’s innovative greenhouse growing methods and processes have positioned the company as a leader in Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) and sustainable practices. The company’s drip irrigation systems produce approximately 80 percent less water usage than open-field agriculture for small tomatoes.
Rather than using traditional soil, NatureSweet plants are cultivated in coconut husk fibre. This allows plants to absorb water and nutrients directly, thus reducing water waste by 30 percent. NatureSweet uses fewer chemical products and fertilisers compared to conventional open-field agriculture. NatureSweet is 100 percent non-GMO, and 70 percent of the company’s packaging material volume is from recycled plastic. Recently, the company voluntarily conserved more than 120 acres of its land to protect endangered species.
NatureSweet joins other Certified B Corporations worldwide, including companies like Patagonia, Allbirds, and Ben and Jerry’s, which have also been evaluated and determined to meet the highest verified social and economic performance standards, public transparency, and accountability. B Corps utilise the power of business to do more than seek profit, positively impacting communities and environments and are reevaluated every three years. The certification is designed to help consumers identify companies with a mission aligning with their values.
“As a sponsor of NatureSweet’s B Corp initiative, I am proud of the tremendous efforts by so many Associates throughout this rigorous process,” said Skip Hulett, General Counsel and VP of NatureSweet.
Hulett continued that the Associates went above and beyond to show how much it means that NatureSweet be recognised as a force for good.