Natural Products Expo West

Public-private partnerships are key to bring more organic, regeneratively farmed food to market, Daily Harvest exec

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags organic

Consumers increasingly want food that is not only good for them, but also good for the planet and those who work the land, which is why Daily Harvest is teaming with industry leaders and USDA to help more farmers – including small-scale BIPOC farmers – transition to organic, adopt regenerative agriculture practices.

“We were founded with a mission to make it easier for folks to form healthy habits around sustainably grown, organic fruits and vegetables. And we believe deeply that if we change the way we eat, we can also change the way food is grown” to be more sustainable and economically viable for farmers, Ricky Silver, Daily Harvest CEO, told FoodNavigator-USA.

He explained at Natural Products Expo West only 1% of the land in the US is farmed organically, in part because the three-year transition period required for organic certification can be expensive. During this period, yields often drop but farmers are not yet able to benefit from the premium pricing organic commands. At the same time, he said, an estimated 2,000 acres of farmland comes out of farming each day in America because the people working the land lack financial stability and sufficient support to maintain the lands.

Farmers are “living in a world of somewhat uncertainty, and the best thing that businesses and the government can do is create more guarantees – whether that be through funding or whether that be through contracting – to take the risk off the table for the farmer,” Silver said.

“That is where Daily Harvest has tried to come in. Can we be available there and help build the supply chains to bring some of these smaller farmers that are transitioning into our own supply chain?” said Silver.

To help more small-scale BIPOC farmers’ transition to organic, and reap the environmental and economic benefits that certification offers, Daily Harvest has teamed with the American Farmland Trust (AFT) and California Certified Organic Farmers to create what Silver referred to as “the avengers of organic transition.”

Through a multi-year program, the trio offer direct financial support, one-on-one technical assistance, market access support and mentorship to farmers that want to transition to organic.

The Almond Projects helps 'enable ecosystem regeneration'

Daily Harvest is also helping protect farming communities, preserve natural resources and “enable ecosystem regeneration” through another partnership on the branded side of the food industry – The Almond Project​.

Daily Harvest, together with Cappello’s, Figure Ate, Simple Mills, Justin’s and Treehouse California Almond, have undertaken a five-year program to study the impact of regenerative applications in almond farming.

“Almonds get this sort of bad reputation” as unsustainable, in part because they require so much water and are grown in drought-prone regions, Silver said. But, he added, there are farmers who want to grow the crop more sustainably, including with regenerative practices.

“We are in the second year, coming up on the third year of this multi-year program, and I think the big takeaway is it takes time, takes patience and it takes partnership” to identify and test possible solutions to the challenges that almond farmers face, Silver said.

While Silver admits that “everything we have tried has not always worked,” he said, The Almond Project “has been an exceptional partnership” and he encourages brands to work together and listen to farmers’ needs as they build supply chains.

“It is going to be an iterative process, and really asking questions about what is needed first helps you be the best support system and the best purchaser on the demand side. We have got to be able to hear the challenges and work around those to solve better solutions, and not just dictate what we need,” he said.

Daily Harvest offers convenient, healthy solutions

At the same time that Daily Harvest is helping to create a more sustainable supply chain and boost organic production, Silver says the brand is educating consumers about the value of organic and regenerative food to help reinforce demand.

“We are built on organic fruits and vegetables, and we are just trying to do our part to make it easier to eat healthier. We talk a lot about how our food makes you feel, because I think people are starting to see that connection more and more,” Silver said.

With that in mind, he said, Daily Harvest’s “innovation is driven by solving more problems at different parts of the day – breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacking – because we know our customers are busy and we know they want to eat healthy,” but it is not always easy to balance the two, Silver said.

To help busy consumers eat healthy, Daily Harvest showcased at Natural Products Expo West its latest product launches – plant-based pastas with 8 grams of protein per serving – and Smoothie Pops made with whole fruits and vegetables blended with no added fruit juice “for kids or the inner kid,” Silver said.

“We are just trying to stay true to who we are as a brand, make it easier for people to eat healthy and show up where people are,” he added.

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