KIND Healthy Snacks (KIND) announced its commitment to become the first snack company to exclusively source its almonds from bee-friendly farmland across the globe by 2025.
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. As a baseline, KIND is expecting its almond suppliers to reserve 3-5% of their farmland for dedicated pollinator habitat to support bees, butterflies and other pollinators. In addition, KIND has worked with its suppliers to eliminate any use of neonicotinoids and chlorpyrifos, two pesticide treatments that are thought to be harmful to pollinators.
California currently produces the vast majority of the world’s almonds, with nearly 1.53 million acres dedicated to almond orchards. However, only a small fraction of that acreage – estimated at less than 20,000 acres – is verified as bee-friendly. In setting this ambition, KIND, which sources 1-2% of the world’s almonds, hopes to significantly increase the availability of almonds grown on bee-friendly farmland. Bees are critical to the production of a variety of nutritious foods, pollinating about a third of the food supply.
Research suggests a variety of factors are impacting bee health, including poor nutrition due to unvaried habitats and pesticide exposure. In the last several years, interest in protecting pollinators has gained significant momentum among the food industry, including the creation of farm-level verification and certification programs that help to increase pollinator habitat and restrict pesticide use. As the marketplace for bee-friendly almonds further develops, KIND will rely on a hybrid approach, using both the currently available certification and verification programs, as well as exploring new methods, to validate its suppliers’ practices.
The KIND Foundation will also 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. “As an agricultural community, we need to make real change to ensure long-term bee health. KIND’s commitment to bee-friendly practices in its supply chain is the sort of actionable approach that will move the dial toward more sustainable practices industry-wide,” said Neal Williams, Professor of Entomology at the University of California, Davis. “To pair this commitment with support from The KIND Foundation for research is forward-looking and shows an understanding of how to promote further practical innovation to benefit bees.”
Water scarcity is another key issue facing California almond farmers. The almond farmer community in the United States, led by the Almond Board of California, has successfully reduced the amount of water used to grow a pound of almonds by 33% in the last two decades and is committed to further reducing that figure by an additional 20% leading up to 2025. KIND’s suppliers and their farmers have set new standards for water conservation through sophisticated irrigation systems and water management technologies used to promote healthy growth and minimize tree stress. These practices help to increase yield at harvest, use water more efficiently and identify risk to crops in real time.
This announcement coincides with two other milestones for KIND. The company recently signed the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment. In line with the Foundation's vision for a circular economy for plastic, KIND will aspire to reach 100% recyclability, compostability, or reusability across all its plastic packaging by 2025, while also reducing its use of single-use plastic overall.
Additionally, by the end of 2020, KIND 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.