At Campbell, we’ve been using tomatoes and working with U.S. farmers for generations. As part of that legacy, we have cooperated to conserve two of our most important natural resources–energy and water.
In 2012 we took that commitment a step further and re-launched our Sustainable Agriculture Program, with a focus on tomatoes and other key vegetables for Campbell’s portfolio. By 2020 we are going even further and aim to cut the water footprint and the Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) of our production sites in half per unit of product food produced.
That work starts with the farmers growing the food. Blake Harlan, a Campbell tomato grower in California, reduced water use to only 60 to 75 percent of the water they used in the past. For Blake, he and his team of growers “take sustainability very seriously and consider ourselves good stewards of the ground—we’re not wasting resources or using too many.”
Each year, Campbell uses around 2 billion pounds of tomatoes and almost all of them are grown in California. To conserve water throughout our harvesting process, we’re working with family farms to foster a more sustainable practice—drip irrigation.
Drip irrigation cuts water consumption
Drip irrigation limits the reliance on a single source of water and gives flexibility when facing occasional (and naturally occurring) challenges like the recent drought.
By using drip irrigation we reduce water use by 25 percent per acre, while at the same time we are reducing GHG emissions and increasing our growing yields significantly.
Dr. Dan Sonke, Manager of Campbell’s Agriculture and Sustainability Program explains that drip irrigation works 12 inches under the ground instead of on top.
“Under the soil is a highly-engineered tube with holes spaced every few inches with an embedded filter that allows it to release water at an even rate right where the roots need it.”
The number of Campbell tomato acres using drip irrigation has almost doubled in the last five years. Today, about 51 percent of our tomato crop – more than 14,000 acres – is grown using drip irrigation.
Bolthouse Farms also works to reduce water usage when growing their carrots. Bolthouse Farms crop growers use circular overhead pivot sprays with high-efficiency nozzles. This uses 20 percent less water, increases spray pattern efficiency and reduces the labor required for traditional pipeline sprays. In addition, this approach cuts down on the need for pipe tractors, which lowers fuel use and emissions.
Our growers are working hard to be as efficient as possible with water, but Campbell’s sustainable supply chain goes even further.
Production sites are being smart with their water too
Our California tomato processing sites at Dixon and Stockton reduced fresh water use by 35 percent between 2010 and 2015 and reduced the amount of wastewater they were throwing out by 21 percent.
What that means is we are using the water that’s pumped through the supply chain and the water evaporated from tomatoes more times before we purge it. We are pumping less water overall and recycling more of the evaporation.
“Our farmers and manufacturing sites are working in a smart, modern way to keep us sustainable and we’ve managed to reduce water and greenhouse emissions significantly while keeping our production up —and we’re really proud of that work,” says Dr. Dan Sonke.
Read our CSR report to learn more information on our sustainable farming and production practices.