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A Recipe for Sustainability in Brazil

November 18, 2015

In Brazil, Cargill has reduced the environmental impact of its Pomarola® tomato products without impacting taste or price.

Pomarola® is one of the most popular tomato sauce brands in Brazil. Cargill acquired it and other beloved varieties in 2011, when it purchased Unilever’s shelf-stable tomato business. Since then, the company has developed new ways to reduce the environmental impact of the Pomarola supply chain.

inpage-tomatoesTomatoes receive a final cleaning by hand before they disappear into a mechanical system for chopping, skin and seed centrifuging and evaporation. Photo by Palani Mohan It’s an example of a success Cargill has achieved by partnering with Walmart on its End-to-End sustainability program. Introduced in 2008, the program encourages Walmart Brazil’s top suppliers to improve the sustainability of their products on multiple fronts. Cargill started by improving the sustainability of its our Liza® cooking oils and expanded to the Pomarola brand.

"From tomato seed handling on the farm to processing at our plant and distributing the product to customers, we made changes across the supply chain to create what we called The Pomarola Sustainability Recipe," said Márcio Barela, a sustainability consultant for Cargill in Brazil.

Changes were as simple as using a different type of truck to transport the tomatoes and as complex as investing in waste treatment facilities and training. With the new “recipe,” Cargill cut down C02 emissions by 10,000 metric tons and saved 28 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy – enough to supply 125,549 homes in Brazil. The company also cut down solid waste by 22 metric tons and reduced the amount of cardboard used by about 185 metric tons.

Just as important as what changed is what didn’t: the ingredients, flavor and price of the products all stayed the same.

“The results were very positive,” said Barela. “It’s encouraging to see the sustainability improvements we were able to make without impacting price or taste for the consumer.”

Employees at Cargill’s tomato plant in Goiânia played a big part in the process. For example, one employee noticed that cardboard was going to waste in the packaging process for a promotional item. To fix the problem, the plant created a separate assembly line for the product, which was more efficient and cut back on packaging waste.

In 2014, the company introduced the first “Cargill Award for Rational Water Use.” This internal initiative encourages employees to create proposals to reduce water consumption at the plants. The award is implemented both locally and nationally in Brazil. The Goiânia facility was the first to win this award for developing a closed-circuit water system for cooling the tomato sauce production line. The solution allows the plant to reuse 163,000 liters of water per month.

The efforts also extend to the independent farmers who grow the tomatoes that Cargill uses to make its Pomarola products. Knowing that they sometimes work long hours in the sun, Cargill now supplies sunscreen to its growers located around the Goiânia plant to help protect them against skin cancer.

“Part of our commitment to sustainability is doing our part to promote the health and safety of our people, which means not only our employees, but our suppliers,” said Barela.
While this project targeted the Pomarola supply chain, Barela says that Cargill is looking at implementing similar initiatives for other product lines as well.

“Sustainability is part of our long-term strategy in Brazil,” he said. “We will continue to look for new ways to improve the sustainability of our operations and supply chains, because we know this matters to Brazilian consumers.”