As a part of its landmark Healthy Bees, Happy Snackers initiative, Flagstone Foods, a premier private brand manufacturer of snack nuts, trail mixes, and other nut-based snacks, announced its commitment to promoting a more sustainable almond industry by sourcing 100% of its almonds from bee-friendly farms by 2025, the first such manufacturer commitment from the private label nut industry. This pledge furthers the company’s longstanding commitment to sustainable and ethical sourcing practices that protect the environment and lift up farmers and farming communities around the world.
“As North America’s leader in private label snack nuts, few buy as many almonds as we do. We believe this distinction brings with it a responsibility to cultivate a more sustainable almond industry,” says Flagstone Foods’ Chief Executive Officer Robert Scalia. “We aim to work collaboratively with almond growers, processors and bee-friendly organizations through our Healthy Bees, Happy Snackers initiative, all focused on supporting the needs of the honey bee, which ultimately aids the almond industry as a whole.”
Honey bees, critical to pollinating over one-third of the U.S. food supply and directly responsible for nearly 100 percent of almonds, are disappearing at a high rate. In fact, on average 40 percent of honey bee colonies die each year due to poor nutrition, pesticides, parasites and pathogens. While California produces the vast majority of the world’s almonds on over 1.5 million acres of almond orchards, only a fraction of that acreage is currently verified as bee-friendly. In addition to its sourcing pledge, Flagstone Foods’ Healthy Bees, Happy Snackers program includes verification and certification of bee-friendly farming practices, a commitment to sustainable farming practices more broadly, and charitable contributions to Project Apis m, an organization that funds honey bee research and the expansion of pollinator habitat and forage.
“Because some of the bee-friendly farming practices are in their infancy in terms of farm adoption, we understand that sourcing bee-friendly almonds may be more difficult than through traditional sourcing practices. However, sourcing from bee-friendly farms is the right thing to do and we consider it part of our mission to help bring others along in our sustainability journey,” says Flagstone Foods’ SVP Global Procurement Scott Easterwood.
Flagstone Foods’ Support of Bee-Friendly Farming Practices
Flagstone Foods is focused on establishing traceable and sustainable sourcing practices with its global supply chain—and in this case, with almond growers. The company is now partnering with select growers and processors such as Pomona Farming, a leader in sustainable and bee-friendly farming practices and one of the largest almond growers in California with approximately 40,000 acres across the Central Valley. Certified through the Pollinator Partnership, Pomona currently dedicates over 3,300 of its acres (more than 8 percent) to providing forage for bees and other pollinators and has planted more than 30 different varieties of bee-friendly plants, with bloom cycles staged throughout the year. Pomona also hosts more than 700 honey-bee hives over the winter at its three Bee Sanctuaries—each boasting warm weather, plentiful water and several hundred contiguous acres of flowers and forage.
Bee-Friendly Certification and Verification Programs
Flagstone Foods will use the most current certification and verification programs, including the Pollinator Partnership’s Bee Friendly Farming program, to verify that its almond suppliers are following bee-friendly farming practices including:
- Providing abundant resources for pollinators by dedicating a minimum of 3 percent of farmland to habitat
- Mitigating the impacts of pesticides and eliminating the use of high-risk pesticides
- Providing nesting sites and responsibly managing hives
These standards are science-based and field-tested, guaranteeing that the actions farmers take on Flagstone Foods’ behalf will directly improve pollinator wellbeing by addressing the four main causes that are negatively impacting bee health — pathogens, parasites (specifically Varroa mites), pesticides and poor nutrition.
Bee-Friendly Philanthropic Support
Minnesota-based Flagstone Foods will also support bee health through charitable contributions to Project Apis m. and its Seeds for Bees® program, which provides almond growers with the seeds and skills they need to create habitat and forage for bees while also improving soil health. Seeds for Bees also works with the Pollinator Partnership to help farmers and growers meet the requirements for Bee Friendly Farming certification.
“We’re proud to be partnering with organizations that share our commitment to restoring healthy bee populations,” says Flagstone Foods’ Senior Vice President Marketing & Innovation Sarah Testa. “Our commitment is an extension of our company’s belief that goodness grows out of appreciation. On behalf of Flagstone Foods, we extend our deep appreciation to beekeepers, our grower partners, and of course to the mighty honey bee.”