The FSA advances sustainable production for the Florida citrus industry

25th January 2023

Header background picture


80% of the area used for orange juice production
in Florida is now FSA verified

Section background picture

SAI Platform has successfully completed a collaborative industry-wide project to implement the Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) in Florida’s orange production.

In recognition of the urgent need to transition the Florida citrus industry towards more sustainable production practices, SAI Platform launched the Florida Orange Sustainability Accelerator in the region in Autumn 2020. To date, approximately 250,000 acres of citrus production have been verified against FSA 3.0, representing an estimated 80% of the area used for orange juice production in Florida.

The Florida citrus industry is highly competitive and is facing increasing pressure for accountability and transparency. It was in this landscape that SAI Platform became the enabler to form a collaborative, industry-wide approach towards more sustainable production bringing together 10 SAI Platform members including Pepsi, Cutrale, Symrise, Givaudan, Ocean Spray, Firmenich, ADM, Coca-Cola, Miritz and Treatt.

SAI Platform’s FSA, with its simple to use system in line with global best practice, was identified as the best tool for encouraging supply chain actors to work together towards relevant and demonstrable continuous improvement of on-farm social, environmental and business performance.

The project was led with the objectives of building consensus across the entire juice industry around FSA implementation and eliminating barriers and providing the necessary resources to enable growers to reach FSA equivalency.  

The alignment across the industry demonstrated to growers and processors in the region the importance and value of implementing the FSA in the Florida fresh orange and orange juice processing supply chain.

“Florida citrus juice processors are committed to providing the consumer with a sustainably sourced product and their implementation of SAI Platform’s FSA with their growers shows this commitment. I am so pleased that the citrus growers in Florida are being recognised for the ongoing sustainable practices that they have employed for many years.  The FSA has not only allowed us to verify these practices, it helps us to communicate new practices to support improved management of their groves.”

Robin Bryant, FSA Consultant, Florida.

Strong grower engagement was crucial in achieving success at the ambitious scale desired and across the life of the project. SAI Platform prioritised face to face education including a townhall with a panel of FSA auditors and an interactive booth at the Florida Citrus Mutual Industry Conference. Here, growers had the opportunity to raise concerns about the FSA verification process and learn from peers that had already implemented the FSA about how to overcome shared challenges.

Several resources were created to support the proactive grower engagement including a version of the FSA 3.0 Self-Assessment Questionnaire that helps to highlight how compliance with Florida and US federal legislation demonstrates FSA alignment, and gaps that growers should be aware of in order to achieve FSA verification. To further assist growers, dedicated FSA guidance documents were specifically designed for Florida citrus growers taking into consideration contextual challenges and opportunities. 

By uniting members around a shared goal and approach to sustainability, SAI Platform was successful in generating widespread awareness and building grower capacity. As 2022 drew to a close, 80% of orange growers in the region had been verified at silver level or above against FSA 3.0, increasing transparency and allowing buyers make credible sustainability claims.

The success of the Florida Orange Sustainability Accelerator has sparked interest among members in kickstarting a similar approach in the Brazil citrus sector.