AUSTRALIA – Coca-Cola Amatil has announced that 100% of sugar used in its non-alcoholic beverages in Australia is sourced from independently accredited growers who follow sustainable production frameworks.

The sugar contracts running to 2021 will be purchased from growers who hold Bonsucro and Smartcane Best Management Practice (BMP) sugar certifications which aim to increase on-farm productivity while reducing environmental and social risks.

The company said all the sugar used in the whole range of its soft drinks will be sourced from farms with decreased herbicides and pesticide use per hectare, while eliminating some prohibited ones.

The farms should also embrace reduced water use in sugarcane growing and milling; natural systems management and support for on-farm systems management.

Coca-Cola Amatil said the sugar will also be obtained from farms with frameworks covering increased use of ethanol, rather than fossil fuels in growing and milling and independent auditing of sugar industry safety and worker training.

“We have responsibilities to the community on resource use and renewal, and we’ve also heard customer feedback in favour of greater sustainability in the products we sell,” said Group Managing Director Alison Watkins.

“The switch to sustainably accredited sugar is a step forward for our overall operations, and also in meeting that customer demand.”

Business profitability while impacting communities

The sustainability frameworks look to address the need for sustainably sourced products among consumers as well as creating value in the entire supply chain.

According to Sugar Research Australia, the practices not only profits the business but could also benefit growers by between US$25 and US$220 per hectare per year.

Coca-Cola Amatil sources its sugar mainly from Wilmar Sugar Australia which is a certified supplier of accredited sustainable sugar.

“Already more than 70% of Queensland’s sugarcane area is in this program of adopting best practice on farm and we want more growers to come on board,” said CANEGROWERS Chairman Paul Schembri.

“It involves things like assessing soil condition to tailor fertiliser applications and reducing soil disturbance.

Often these practices save input costs and boost yield as well as avoid downstream impacts on the Great Barrier Reef.”

The commitment reflects the global commitment by The Coca-Cola Company to source all priority ingredients from sustainable sources by 2020.

It is alongside Project Catalyst, a collaboration between The Coca-Cola Foundation, sugarcane farmer, WWF Australia, natural resource management bodies and the Federal Government which aims to reduce agricultural runoff impacting the Great Barrier Reef.

The project is said to have, since 2013, improved the quality of 150 billion litres of water flowing into the reef and reduced runoff by 180 tonnes per year.