Healthy snack company KIND’s latest environmental pursuit is a reminder that KIND is more than just a name–kindness is integral to the brand’s overall mission. The New York City-based company recently became the first food brand to pledge to buy 2025 source only bee-friendly almonds–those that have been grown on what KIND deems “bee-friendly farmland.” The commitment comes at a time when the U.S. honey bee population continues to decline.
KIND said in an August press release that, “as a baseline,” it will expect its almond suppliers to “reserve 3-5% of their farmland for dedicated pollinator habitat to support bees, butterflies and other pollinators.” The company also said that it has “worked with its suppliers to eliminate any use of neonicotinoids and chlorpyrifos,”–two pesticides believed to be harmful to bees.
According to the release, California is the global leader in almond production with close to 1.53 million acres of land devoted to growing almonds. Yet only a small portion of that land, under 20,000 acres, is bee-friendly certified,. The company said that it plans to use a “hybrid approach” to assess the practices of its suppliers, “using both the currently available certification and verification programs, as well as exploring new methods.”
KIND’s move to source bee-friendly almonds is significant considering that it sources some 25 million pounds of almonds each year, Fast Company reports. That makes the company one of the largest almond-buyers worldwide, accounting for one to two percent of the global supply of the nut, the retailer said in the press release. “Almonds are the lead ingredient in most of KIND’s 80+ products and the company’s number one ingredient by both volume and spend. By collaborating directly with farmers, suppliers, researchers and other leading brands, KIND aims to significantly expand the usage of bee-friendly practices among almond farmers, the retailer said.
Bees are vital to our everyday lives. According to Planet Bee Foundation, a single honey bee colony is capable of pollinating 100 million flowers a day and at least one-third of our global food supply is pollinated by bees. In 2019 Matthew Mulica, Senior Project Manager at the Keystone Policy Center, which works alongside the Honey Bee Health Coalition, told ABC News, “Honey bees are essential for the pollination of flowers, fruits, and vegetables, and support about $20 billion worth of crop production in the U.S. annually.”
Fast Company reports that “Almond growers rely on honey bees to pollinate orchards every spring, with beekeepers from around the country trucking in the 2 million bees used in the California almond industry. Since the early 2000s, those beekeepers have been struggling with the loss of an unusually high number of colony.” In the press release, KIND cited “poor nutrition due to unvaried habitats and pesticide exposure,” as likely contributing factors to the losses. By sourcing almonds from farms not using harmful pesticides and that have land designated as pollinator habitat with a variety of pollen types, the retailer will facilitate a healthier future for bees.
KIND Founder and CEO Daniel Lubetzky said in the release that while he is optimistic to see some of his company’s partners and almond suppliers already taking steps to “more actively protect pollinators,” there is more to be done. He hopes that the company’s commitment will result in a ripple effect in the industry. “But we can do more to make these practices central to the way the almond industry does business. While we know we can’t do it alone, we are proud to lend our voice and scale to call for this much needed change,” said Lubetzky.
The retailer is well-known for products like its low-ingredient, nut-based, KIND Bars that come in flavors like Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt and Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter. The company also established The KIND Foundation which “is on a mission to foster kinder and more empathetic communities” through launching and supporting “programs that will have scalable, lasting impact.” In the release, the retailer also revealed that its KIND foundation will “make a $150,000 investment in the Williams Lab at the University of California, Davis to help answer critical questions about bee health and track the efficacy of these farm-level improvements.”
KIND confirmed in the release that it “will aspire to reach 100% recyclability, compostability, or reusability across all its plastic packaging by 2025.” The company also said that by the end of this year it “will purchase enough renewable energy credits to cover their US offices and manufacturing sites and in 2021 will begin to integrate renewable energy sources into its direct operations.”