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Natural Foods Merchandiser

Ingredients going green

Stevia. “Stevia is 300 times sweeter than sugar, which is a significant fact for the environment in itself. It means that stevia has a much lower land impact than other sweeteners,” says Jason Hecker, director of marketing for North and South America at PureCircle, an Oak Brook, Ill.-based stevia producer. The company is taking a step in the green direction by using the biomass from the extraction of Reb-A, its stevia-based sweetener, to fuel the factory. Hecker hopes to expand this to other facilities within the company.

Fish oil. Fish oil is always under the environmental microscope. The science supports health benefits, but people are concerned about overfishing. EPAX, a global supplier of marine-based omega-3 EPA/DHA fatty-acid concentrates, recently gained Friends of the Sea certification for its sustainable fishing operations. EPAX sources the lion’s share of its raw material, anchovies, from all-wild sources within its own fisheries in Peru. “Our fishing grounds are strictly regulated by the Peruvian authorities,” says CEO Bjorn Refsum. “Quotas are established based on historical Peruvian data over the last 20 years, and it has proved that our fishery is sustainable with no decrease in mass.”

Cranberry. Carver, Mass.-based Decas Cranberry Products embarked on a project in 2008 to study the feasibility of using wind turbine power. In addition, Decas converted 250,000 cubic feet of its warehouse and manufacturing facility to high-efficiency lighting, and built a closed-loop water-supply system that reduced water use by 50 percent while increasing manufacturing capacity. The company also set up a system to capture methane to fuel the boiler, and focuses on integrated pest management and organic agricultural methods to support sustainable farmers and reduce chemical use.

Cocoa. Cargill, an international food producer and marketer, embarked on an extensive program to train cocoa farmers in Western Africa about sustainable farming practices. All totaled, the company has trained 1,590 farmers with the assistance of Solidaridad, an international development organization, and IDH, a Dutch sustainable trade initiative. The program is UTZ certified, which ensures that cocoa, coffee, tea and palm oil are grown in a sustainable and transparent manner.

Personal care/cleaning ingredients. chemicals and nutritional ingredients for the wellness industry, has developed a Care Chemicals program that allows manufacturers of personal care, home care and industrial cleaning items to see what portion of natural and renewable raw materials are in any Care Chemicals product. Cognis’ Green Chemical Solutions also allows manufacturers to decide how “green” they want to be by following one of three guides.

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