Press Release

California Giant Berry Farms Announce The World’s First Sustainably Grown Certified Strawberries

In partnership with Measure to Improve, Satsuma Farms becomes the first strawberry grower in the world to achieve the Sustainably Grown certification from SCS Global Services

Sustainably Grown Certified

California Giant Berry Farms and Measure to Improve, LLC (MTI) announce the Sustainably Grown certification of Satsuma Farms, strategic strawberry grower-partner for California Giant, under the rigorous standard of SCS Global Services. Satsuma Farms, located in Watsonville, California, is the first strawberry operation in the world to achieve this prestigious certification.

Together, California Giant and MTI worked to determine which sustainability certification best met the needs of the company’s growers, ultimately selecting Sustainably Grown. This comprehensive standard uses a triple bottom line approach, addressing issues related to social, environmental and economic sustainability, and mirrors California Giant’s own People, Planet, Product model. Joe Barsi, President of California Giant, recognizes the importance of this alignment, “Sustainably Grown is a challenging certification, but it was the best one for California Giant because it aligns with our own long-term approach to sustainability. This certification reflects our commitment to treating the environment and the people involved in our supply chain right.”

Recent years have shown a marked increase in buyer and consumer interest in produce grown sustainably, with emphasis on equitable social practices. Rich Uto, owner of Satsuma Farms, sees the importance of addressing sustainability in the near-term, saying “Food safety requirements expanded rapidly over a short period of time. Sustainability is the next step for growers. We live differently now, and we need to do things differently. There’s no time to waste – just make the time and get it done.”

With MTI’s support, California Giant launched a pilot certification project at Satsuma Farms, who leases land from California Giant, in 2018. MTI provided hands-on guidance at Satsuma Farms for the duration of the pilot, which culminated in this landmark certification in August 2020. Kevin Warner, Manager, Sustainable Agriculture at SCS, was impressed by the dedication and success of the pilot, noting that “Rich Uto and his team at Satsuma Farms did a great job on their Sustainably Grown certification audit. At SCS we set a high bar for sustainability in agriculture with a thorough investigation of practices to ensure the protection of farmworkers, environmental sustainability, and the economic resilience of the farming operation. Satsuma Farms exceeded our expectations in meeting the stringent requirements of our standard. Working with Measure to Improve expedited the audit, saving time and money for the client, and ensuring a smooth process in certifying the world’s first Sustainably Grown certified strawberries.”

California Giant has no plans to slow their sustainability plans, despite the pandemic. The company will continue working with MTI to roll the certification program out to more of their growers over the next few years. “In piloting Sustainably Grown at Satsuma Farms, California Giant has positioned itself to have a credible response to this growing market demand for sustainability assurance. Cal Giant’s commitment to their growers, customers, and communities is now underpinned by our robust third-party certification, and they have differentiated themselves in an increasingly competitive business landscape by being a first mover towards Sustainably Grown certification in the berry industry,” added Warner.

Certification is an investment. “Sustainability certifications provide third-party verification and an easily recognized seal of approval that helps organizations effectively market their social, environmental, and ethical responsibility while avoiding the pitfalls of greenwashing”, said Nikki Cossio, CEO and Founder of Measure to Improve. “Certification is a worthwhile investment if it aligns with your business values and your customer’s values.”

For more information about how MTI can help your company reach its sustainability goals, contact Nikki Cossio at [email protected].

About Measure to Improve, LLC
Founded in 2014, Measure to Improve’s mission is to help produce companies measure, improve, and credibly promote their sustainability efforts. Our clients include produce growers, packers, shippers, and industry associations across the United States. Our staff has a proven track record of helping companies identify and implement strategies to increase efficiency. By supporting clients in setting ambitious, but attainable, sustainability goals, MTI encourages progress that can be validated and marketed. MTI’s projects address a variety of sustainability challenges, including water, energy, greenhouse gas emissions, waste, and social accountability.

About California Giant Berry Farms
More than 35 years ago, cousins Pat Riordan and Bill Moncovich teamed up with childhood best friend, Frank Saveria, and began to sell strawberries from a simple trailer in Watsonville, CA. Years later, they grew to a global family of people who share their passion for strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. From planting, growing, harvesting and shipping, California Giant values each and every team member who work to deliver the best quality berries while giving back to our communities while staying focused on their mission and core values: Community, Quality, Philanthropy, Fairness In All We Do and Mutual Respect.

About Satsuma Farms, LLC
Founded in 2016 by second generation farmer, Rich Uto, Satsuma Farms is a strategic grower-partner of California Giant Berry Farms. Providing guidance and a strong work ethic, Rich and his team are dedicated to sustainably growing conventional and organic strawberries on over 160 acres of land which is owned by California Giant in Watsonville, California. These values along with Rich’s longstanding dedication to the agriculture industry have proven to be successful in providing year round high quality fresh berries.

About SCS Global Services
SCS Global Services is a global leader in third-party environmental and sustainability verification, certification, auditing, testing, and standards development. Its programs span a cross-section of industries, recognizing achievements in climate mitigation, green building, product manufacturing, food and agriculture, forestry, consumer products, and more. Headquartered in Emeryville, California, SCS has representatives and affiliate offices throughout the Americas, Asia/Pacific, Europe and Africa. Its broad network of auditors are experts in their fields, and the company is a trusted partner to companies, agencies and advocacy organizations due to its dedication to quality and professionalism. SCS is a chartered Benefit Corporation, reflecting its commitment to socially and environmentally responsible business practices.

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Media Contacts
Nikki Cossio, Founder & CEO Measure to Improve, LLC | Phone: (831) 594-7972 | Email: [email protected]
Kyla Oberman, Director of Marketing California Giant Berry Farms | Phone: (831) 247-4386 | Email: [email protected]

SCS Media Contact

Shyama Devarajan

Shyama Devarajan

Senior Marketing Manager
+1 (520) 548-8966