Mars Foodservice received the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources Award at the annual Footprint Awards for its commitment to source all of its rice varieties from farmers who are working towards the SRP standard by 2020.
The awards, which were announced on 24th May 2018, comprise 13 categories, each one dedicated to recognising the latest innovations, commitments and achievements of both businesses and individuals supporting sustainability in foodservice.
Sustainable rice is critical to meet the needs of a growing global population. Rice is the daily staple for more than 3.5 billion people and provides livelihoods for 19% of the world’s population. Yet rice farming has environmental impacts. Previous rice production practices use approximately 40% of the world’s irrigation water, and is responsible for up to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions – and demand for rice will only increase.
In 2015 Mars Food announced its rice sustainability initiative whereby it pledged that by 2020 100% of its rice would be sourced from farmers working towards the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) standard for sustainable rice. In October, the company achieved the first landmark goal following this pledge, announcing that 100% of its Uncle Ben’s Basmati Rice is now sourced in this way – a first in the global rice industry.
Uncle Ben’s Basmati Rice is sourced from India and Pakistan, through famer partnerships which enable the company to trace its rice from field to fork. Uncle Ben’s works with its suppliers and partners, such as the International Rice Research Institute, World Wildlife Fund and Helvetas, to share innovative farming methods with farmers. A 2016 pilot project to test SRP technologies in Pakistan demonstrated that new growing techniques delivered an 8% increase in yield, a 30% reduction in water, and a 32% increase in net income.
Rachel Leveridge, Foodservice Lead at Mars Food, comments on the importance of winning the award and the recognition of the initiative within the industry: “We are absolutely thrilled to have won the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources Award at the Footprint Awards for our sustainable rice commitment. The initiative itself encompasses our company ethos in ensuring “Better Food Today, a Better World Tomorrow” and highlights the dedication that we put into making sure that we achieve our goals that provide shared benefits for our farmers, the environment and the industry. This award is yet further acknowledgement that we are reaching these goals and making a significant impact within the industry, and to have been awarded this at such a hugely prestigious event is another landmark achievement for us at Mars Food.”