McCormick Price: $125.39 ^ 1.26 (1.02%)

Volume: 1,258,188

As Of: Aug 16 2018 4:02PM

Refresh Stock Quote
HomeNews CenterFlavorForwardArbor Day: Spices and Sustainability

Arbor Day: Spices and Sustainability

Lucas van der Walt, Agricultural Scientist Director, Gabriel Sarasin, Sustainability Manager and Emma Gladstone, Associate Sustainability Manager

It may shock you to learn that many spices actually come from trees or are dependent on them for their survival. In honor of Arbor Day, Lucas van der Walt, our Agricultural Scientist Director, Gabriel Sarasin, our Sustainability Manager and Emma Gladstone, our Associate Sustainability Manager, share their perspective about the importance of trees and the work their team does to ensure the sustainability of our tree-based spices!

In Lucas’s role as an agricultural scientist, he is extremely familiar with the crucial role trees play in the cultivation of spices, herbs and extracts. Tree-based herbs and spices include nutmeg, mace, cloves, allspice, juniper berries, star anise, cinnamon and bay leaves. Many of our iconic spices, like cinnamon, vanilla and black pepper are tree based or dependent on trees. Cinnamon is a self-regenerating tree, vanilla needs tree shade and support since it’s a vine, and black pepper also grows as a vine and needs support and shade from a live tree to thrive.

Speaking of iconic spices, cinnamon (cassia) is primarily sourced from the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. It is a self-regenerating tree which takes around 8-15 years to begin producing bark, and 20-30 years to produce premium quality cinnamon. McCormick has actively supported research by institutions and universities into the physical characteristics of spice tree crops and monitoring the health of the forest tree population. We have also used satellite imagery to monitor tree cover change over time to help define our sustainability strategy for cinnamon. We combine these modern means of managing the cultivation of cinnamon with the expertise of local farmers in debarking and harvesting to ensure an efficient process and high-quality product.

We recognize that the longevity of trees is an essential component of our global sustainability efforts. Trees play an important role in climate change – they either slow it down or mitigate its effects. As part of our Purpose-Led Performance (PLP) strategy, we’ve facilitated the development of farmer support programs in Vietnam for black pepper, Madagascar for vanilla, and Indonesia for both vanilla and black pepper. Farmers are encouraged through good agricultural practices (GAP) training to plant more trees, which, as well as helping with climate change mitigation, can provide an alternative income source and is a step towards farmers becoming Rainforest Alliance certified. Biodiversity is key for farmers not to rely on a single crop and the same trees also provide shade mandatory for young vanilla vines.

As we look toward the future, we continue to innovate our processes to help farmers and consumers alike. One way that we’re utilizing the latest technology is through Farmforce, which is a mobile and web smallholder farmer management solution. So far, the application has been implemented for vanilla in Madagascar and India, and black pepper in Vietnam. The benefits of this technology include accurate yield forecasting, the ability to plan agronomic trainings and documented compliance with international standards including Organic and Rainforest Alliance certification. These new ways of collaborating with farmers help us monitor not only crop yields, but also any effects of climate change or other weather abnormalities in real time.

Trees have been, and will continue to be, crucial not only to the work we do with McCormick, but to the stability of our global ecosystem. Trees provide many of the spices we know and love, their growth and longevity provides shade for other crops, homes for animals and even the air we breathe. So, in honor of Arbor Day, we take a moment to recognize all that trees grow and do for us throughout the year.