I was reading an article just the other day about how Millennials are supporting sustainable industries. Every week, there is news about another company going “green” — from carbon neutrality to ensuring their products are made with organic or sustainably sourced ingredients.
Several major brands like Wrangler, PepsiCo and Microsoft have all vowed to be carbon neutral or sustainable. PepsiCo, the second largest food company in the world, has doubled its carbon reduction goal, aiming to be carbon neutral by 2040 — a full decade ahead of terms laid out in the Paris Agreement.
PepsiCo has specifically named optimizing soil health as one way for the company to cut greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) more than 40% by the end of this decade. This move will reduce 26 million metric tons of GHGs, or the equivalent off taking more than 5 million cars off the road for a year.
Another short-term goal for the food industry giant is supporting the adoption of regenerative farming practices. Agriculture currently accounts for one-third of PepsiCo’s emissions. According to data released by PepsiCo, the company’s global carbon footprint in 2019 was 57 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, so PepsiCo certainly has a lot of work to do.
What does this mean for growers? If you already use cover crops, good news! You are already ahead of the game, as cover crops are considered a sustainable practice. Add in other practices like minimal tillage and livestock grazing and you will have the Triple Crown, per se, of sustainable practices sewn up.
In more practical terms, PepsiCo is encouraging growers to use low-emission fertilizers such as blue or green ammonia, adopt precision technology and improve soil health, biodiversity and on-farm productivity.
Although it would be easy to write off these efforts by PepsiCo as just a public relations opportunity, it must be acknowledged that it will not be easy for the company to encourage suppliers to adopt regenerative farming practices. Adding crop diversity can increase seed costs. Integrating livestock has an array of additional costs involved, including the cost of the animals, feed, housing, veterinary care, and more. Planting and maintaining trees is also costly, in terms of the costs of the trees themselves, any extra water, etc. For farmers, it’s perhaps most important to recognize how these practices have the potential to impact your bottom line.