It’s our mission to flip the standard and make organic plant-based the new norm.
That’s simply better for animals, the planet and you.
In line with this mission, we always strive to work with nature (instead of against it) and have the smallest footprint possible.
In this section you’ll discover what that looks like throughout our whole supply chain.
We’ll show you how our primary ingredient - coconut - is sourced, harvested, shipped, and everything in between.
Next to that, we’ll take a look at the high standards we use for selecting other ingredients than coconut.
Finally, we take a deep dive into relevant topics like biodiversity, organic agriculture, and much more. Ready to discover more? Let’s go!
How sustainable is our supply chain?
1. Where do our coconuts come from?
The coconuts we use in our delicious yogs come from the Philippines; a Southeast Asian country comprised of more than seven thousand islands (!). Believe us, we have travelled the whole world and tasted many different coconuts, but we like the ones from the Philippines the most. Why?
Thanks to its many islands, the soil in the Philippines naturally contains more minerals which enriches the flavor of the coconut. And this you can taste!
All coconuts are sourced directly from our organically certified coconut supplier located on one of the country’s most beautiful islands. Does it get even better? Yes. We are proud to be able to say that all coconuts are 100% single-origin, meaning they are all harvested on one single coconut plantation. This gives the coconut milk we use unique characteristics and specific flavors compared to coconut milks made of coconuts from multiple origins.
The coconut farm covers an area of more than 13 thousand hectares. It contains multiple varieties of both tall and dwarf coconut trees. The plantation is operated by a team of local smallholder farmers who cultivate the coconuts on their own lands. To ensure that each tree receives plenty of nutrients, the coconut trees are planted with enough spacing in-between, as you can see on the picture below.
2. How are the coconuts harvested?
Our coconuts are harvested by highly skilled farm workers using special harvesting equipment. This tool, specifically designed for coconut harvesting purposes, consists of a very sharp hook (also called scythe) tied at the top end of a bamboo pole. Fancy, right?
This method has a lot of advantages compared to climbing: it’s fast, efficient and safe. As tall coconut trees can grow up to an incredible 30 meters, poles are often the only solution. All coconut fruits are harvested with this traditional method, and absolutely no animals, including monkeys, are used.
3. What is biodiversity and why is it important?
Biodiversity refers to all the different varieties of animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms that make up our natural world. This is essential because all living organisms work together in ecosystems to support and grow life on Earth. However, global biodiversity has taken a hit...
In the past 40 years global biodiversity has decreased significantly. Of some 6,000 plant species cultivated for food, only nine account for 66 percent of total crop production. This is in large part due to intensive agricultural practices, pesticide use and monoculture farming. Reduced biodiversity means our health and livelihoods are at risk too. We have to stop this.
That’s why at Abbot Kinney’s / Ecotone, we are committed to protect, grow, and care for biodiversity. We do this by implementing different farming practices.
As all our ingredients – including coconuts - are organic, no chemicals are used whatsoever, protecting biodiversity for good.
Moreover, through a process called intercropping we are able to cultivate multiple crops simultaneously on the same field. This leads to a more effective use of resources, a higher growth rate, and reduction of weeds. For example, by planting a tall crop (e.g. coconut) with a shorter crop (e.g. napier grass) multiple crops are grown at the same, counteracting monoculture farming. A very simple farming practice that everyone should use if you ask us!
4. What is organic farming and why is it better than conventional farming?
Fair question. Let’s dive a little deeper here.
Organic farming means that our ingredients are grown in a 100% natural way, without the use of harmful pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or other forms of chemicals. This helps to protect the soil and its fertility in the long run. When a soil is more fertile, in it will grow more nutrient-dense foods. That means you’ll get more vitamins, minerals, and other health-promoting nutrients when you eat it!
Next, organic agriculture also means that the crops are unrefined and non-GMO. Genetically modified organisms are associated with higher levels of toxicity and numerous human and animal health concerns. Stuff you don’t want too much of in your body.
Finally, as we touched upon earlier, organic farming has been scientifically proven to produce up to 30% more biodiversity than conventional farming, by increasing both the abundance and richness of different species.
Some examples of organic farming practices that are commonly used on the plantation include mulching, rodent deterrent and bio-fertilizer.
To start with, mulching is the process of applying a natural layer of plant leftovers (in our case coconut husk) on the soil surface to hold on to water in the soil and make the coconut trees more resilient during drought.
Second, in order to avoid rodents from eating the fresh coconut fruits, we place colorful wrappings (those bright blue ones you see on the pictures) with specific scents around the trees. Luckily, nature provides us with everything we need to do the trick, so no chemicals whatsoever are necessary.
Finally, bio-fertilizers such as blue green algae are widely used on the plantation to encourage plant-growth and increase crop yields.
5. How do we take care of the farmers?
Our supplier in the Philippines works directly with over 3,000 farmers, most of whom are indigenous people. All farmers are part of a cooperative and their welfare is a priority. The farmers receive a fair salary that is above minimum wage. In addition, they have the opportunity to follow trainings so that they can increase the productivity of existing crops or they learn to grow different types of crops interchangeably (intercropping). Therefore, plenty of opportunities are available for farmers to increase their technical knowledge and earn a higher salary.
The ultimate goal is to ensure that the farmers earn a salary that is sufficient for them to belong to the middle class and no longer live below the poverty line. This can be achieved incrementally by rewarding farmers with higher salaries as their productivity increases. In addition, there are special programs farmers can fall back on in case they need it, such as emergency loans, advance payments and insurance coverage. Finally, they have access to government benefits such as social security, health care and investment funds.
By providing employment, trainings and a fair compensation, the smallholder farmers do no longer face challenges like low productivity, bad accessibility to roads and vulnerability to drought. Moreover, they do no longer need to use traditional farming practices that are harmful. Instead, they can focus on sustainable and environmentally friendly farming methods.
6. What is done with the waste of the coconuts?
In terms of product waste, there is none, because every single part of the coconut gets used! How cool is that?
Below you find a chart of different useful products that can be made from the remains of the coconuts used in our production. This includes coconut water, doormats or brooms (from the hairy husk), activated charcoal (from heating the coconut shells), biofuel and coconut blossom sugar (from the blossoms of the coconut palm tree).
7. How do we ensure sustainable transportation?
We use the highest quality coconut milk in our products. Unfortunately, this delicious crop does not grow in our backyard and we have to transport it from the Philippines to Europe by ship. So how do we make this transportation more sustainable?
In order to transport in the most sustainable way, we only transport the most concentrated form of coconut milk available. Moreover, Abbot Kinney’s is affiliated with the GoodShipping Program. This program offers companies the opportunity to make container shipments more sustainable by replacing fossil fuel with biofuel. Since biofuel is more expensive, transportation companies often choose to run on fossil fuels to save costs. In collaboration with GoodShipping, Abbot Kinney's pays this fuel premium which incentivizes transporters to use the sustainable biofuel instead.
The biofuel that is used is derived from biomass which is made from plant-based materials like sugar cane and wood. Therefore, no additional CO2 emissions are released in the atmosphere when the fuel is burnt.
More information about the GoodShipping Program can be found on their website: https://goodshipping.com/
8. How sustainable is our packaging?
We always strive to use the most sustainable packaging available for all our products.
For example, the outer part of our yog packaging is made from recycled cardboard. And paper recycling, we are pretty good at that in the Netherlands. 85% of the paper and cardboard used is collected and reused. The inner part are plastic cups made of PP - polypropylene. It is sturdy, food-safe, and very recyclable. Finally, the closure of our yogs is made of aluminum foil. Previously, the aluminum seal was covered with a plastic lid. We have said goodbye to this, because it saves a lot of plastic, and the aluminum seal is able to seal the package for a few days!
Our drink packaging is made from 88% plant-based materials. Moreover, the cap is made from sugar cane and thus fully bio-based. This is the highest standard currently available.
Our ice cream packaging is made from a paper cup (more than 90% renewable) and lid (more than 98% renewable) with a plastic PE coating. This coating ensures that the cups remain structurally strong and do not leak.