The big question food manufacturers will be asked in the coming years goes a step beyond pesticides, GMOs, and humane treatment of animals.
According to John Roulac, CEO and founder of Nutiva, the query that matters is: “What are you doing to return carbon—which is in the atmosphere—and return it to the soil where it once belonged?”
Battling climate change is high on the list of priorities for the company, which is known for its organic, non-GMO hempseed, coconut oil, and chia seeds. They’re working to reduce carbon emissions by focusing on regenerative agriculture through compost, cover crops, and holistic grazing, along with working toward becoming a zero waste company.
“At our manufacturing facilities, we’re recycling and diverting, composting, reusing, a minimum of 90 percent of what could have been thrown away,” Roulac said.
While asking about carbon emissions might seem like a concern coming from the mouths of only the most conscious consumers, Roulac has been on the nose about upcoming trends in the past. He’s always picked risky, less mainstream items than the typical health food chain. Nutiva started out with one product in 1999: hempseed.
Originally illegal in the states, Roulac found a U.S. market for the seeds grown in Canada. In the 1990s, Americans might have regarded hempseed as pot product, but now it’s more widely known the world’s most nutritious seeds due to its high content of protein, magnesium, zinc, and iron.
After conquering the hempseed market, Nutiva moved on to other health items on the verge of gaining popularity, like chia seeds and coconut oil. Nutiva is the largest seller of all three products.
The market for coconut oils and chia seeds is crowded, but Nutiva’s high-quality standards set their product apart. Take the coconut oil: Roulac himself visits his factories in the Philippines to help create the best possible product. If the coconut oil isn’t up to snuff, they reject the batch, instead of just filling up the bottle and selling it to an unknowing customer anyway.
Clearly focused on filling the consumers’ bodies with only superior products, Roulac is always on the look out for new sources of nutrition.
“Red palm oil is on the horizon to be the next big super food,” said Roulac. And Nutiva’s already added the product that boasts the highest sources of vitamins A and B of any plant oil to their brand, with a red palm oil, buttery spread, and shortening.
When they’re not focusing on developing new items, Nutiva also makes time to nourish their community. By donating one percent of their sales to sustainable agriculture, they’ve outfitted public schools in Richmond, Calif.,—near the company’s headquarters—with fruit tree orchards. Nutiva also sponsors organic farming conferences, helps build community gardens, and has given away roughly 40,000 coconut seedlings to farmers in the Philippines.
Photo credit: Jason via Flickr