Danone Unit Launches Push to Double Coconut-Farmers’ Incomes
(Bloomberg) -- A unit of French food giant Danone SA said it’s starting a program to help coconut farmers in the Philippines boost yields and double their incomes within five years.
The effort, called the the Good People Loop, will help the farmers adopt more sustainable practices like composting and mulching organic matter, with the aim to increase yields 50% in five years, So Delicious Dairy Free said in a statement Wednesday. The company makes vegan foods and beverages, with coconut-based products making up about three quarters of its offerings.
The global coconut products industry is expected to reach $31.1 billion by 2026, with a compound average growth rate of almost 14%, according to So Delicious. But despite strong demand, many coconut farmers often live in poverty, said Deanna Bratter, head of sustainability development for Danone North America.
“This is due to a variety of reasons, including declining crop yields, and also just a lack of transparency and visibility throughout the supply chain,” Bratter said in an interview. The company wants to ensure that the funds and the premiums “make it to the farmers who are growing our products,” she said.
Many of the coconut trees in the Philippines are 40 to 50 years old, Bratter said. These might each produce as few as 10 coconuts per year, compared with young coconut trees that can yield as many as 150. The program will also work to help convert some farms to organic to maintain the supply of organic coconuts.
So Delicious, which sources coconuts for its variety of non-dairy milk, ice cream and yogurt products from the Philippines, aims to work with 1,000 coconut farmers to start this project. It has enrolled 600 farmers in the program so far, including 200 certified organic farmers.
The company is partnering with the Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming and the Integrated Rural Development Foundation of the Philippines.
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