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ABC Launches CASP Supply Chain Program

ABC Launches CASP Supply Chain Program

4/7/2020

(April 9, 2020) – In early 2018, the Almond Board of California (ABC) launched the California Almond Sustainability Program (CASP) Supply Chain pilot program. The program’s main objective is to allow growers to share data on their growing practices anonymously, in aggregate, with their handlers, who can provide that data to buyers whose customers are increasingly interested in how their food is grown.

Now, after two years trialing the program, the Almond Board is formally launching the Supply Chain program to the California almond industry.

“Growers have a strong track record of executing responsible orchard practices. Being able to aggregate information on certain practices and share it with customers who, more and more, are demanding to know how their food is produced, is very compelling and creates a lot of confidence in California almonds as a high-quality, responsibly grown crop,” said ABC Vice President of Global Technical and Regulatory Affairs Julie Adams.

Partnership bolsters CASP awareness

In 2017, to increase buyer awareness and acceptance of CASP, the Almond Board collaborated with the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform, a global membership organization made up of large food and beverage companies, to benchmark CASP. SAI Platform‘s Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA), which consists of 112 questions on good farming practices, was compared with over 200 assessment practices within CASP, plus California and federal regulations. After comparing CASP Farm Sustainability Assessment pngand FSA practices, SAI Platform recognized CASP at gold-level equivalency, a ranking which reflects the comprehensive nature of the program. CASP also became the first nut-specific sustainability program to be benchmarked against the FSA.

“We realized there was an opportunity with SAI Platform for growers to get credit for what they are doing in the orchard by documenting those practices through CASP,” said Adams. “Benchmarking our program against a globally accepted sustainability program shows buyers in the supply chain that our priorities are already aligned with theirs and gives us a common language to talk about sustainable production practices.”

Program delivers unique value

Growers currently participating in CASP may generate a report showing how their practices compare to those in the FSA. From there, they have the option to share that comparative data and the broader results from CASP with their handlers through the Supply Chain program. If enough growers opt-in and choose to share CASP data with their handler (on a consolidated basis), that handler can receive a summarized report on how the practices utilized by their growers compare with state averages.

Handlers can then share details from the report with buyers and food companies, who are increasingly asking handlers for this data to help them meet their sustainability goals and answer questions from consumers who are demanding more information on how their food is grown. This, in turn, could eventually eliminate some of the duplication of supply chain reporting that is currently required of handlers.

“Benchmarking against the FSA program should reduce the amount of different forms a grower or handler needs to fill out for different buyers in relation to sustainability,” said Gabriele Ludwig, director of Environmental and Sustainability Affairs at ABC. “Furthermore, if growers want to see how their practices compare to an international assessment, they have access to an additional report based on their completion of the nine CASP modules.”

Telling our sustainability story

CASP Logo
The California almond industry is celebrating ten years of CASP during the 2019-2020 crop year.

The importance of the FSA to buyers in the U.S. and European markets, along with fact that FSA recognizes existing CASP efforts, makes the Supply Chain program a win for early adopters. The Almond Board’s ongoing relationship with the SAI Platform through workshops, allied industry tours, etc., is only one example of the many opportunities ABC is pursuing to increase buyer awareness of CASP and growers’ responsible practices.

The Supply Chain program will only be effective if growers participate in CASP. We encourage handlers to speak with their growers about participating in CASP, as increased participation will ensure the industry and ABC are able to continue building confidence in almond growers’ practices amongst buyers.

“Buyers are always amazed when they hear about CASP and what California almond growers are already doing in their orchards to grow responsibly. It is truly a win-win when customers trust that our data, and our program, demonstrate the almond industry’s commitment to sustainable growing practices,” Adams said.

For more information on CASP, visit SustainableAlmondGrowing.org.

Stay tuned for upcoming articles in The Handle on the CASP Supply Chain program.