Woolworths Fresh Food Future reduces emissions with seedless melons in QLD, NT and NSW

Harvest Company and Woolworths, NSW, QLD, NT

Harvest Company watermelon producers across three states are to review their production methods and reduce the industry footprint with help from the Woolworths Fresh Food Future program.

The idea behind the project is to produce more melons with less carbon pollution. The partnership hopes to measure the amount of energy used throughout the melon supply chain from sowing the seeds to refrigerating and transporting the melons to market.

The Harvest Company has supplied Woolworths for more than 30 years and markets 40,000 tonnes of melons each year. General manager, Robert Gray, says ‘What we want to determine is where in the system energy efficiencies can be made and then implement new production methods to optimise energy and therefore carbon use’.

‘Select Melons’ producer Darryl O’Leary from Queensland states that, ‘we’ll also get, for the first time, an accurate understanding of the amount of greenhouse gas emissions being produced per kilogram of melon.’

Three watermelon producers – in the Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales – are involved in the 18-month project that began in April 2012. Carbon footprint expertise, developed in the wine industry, will monitor seasonal fluxes in consumer demand, production and emissions the results of which will help all growers associated with Select Melons Australia.

Most of the efficiencies will be made in pumping irrigation water, gas emissions resulting from nitrogen fertiliser use and freighting to markets. Energy use will differ from producer to producer, for example, Queensland melons rely solely on rainfall while Northern Territory growers send melons across Australia to market resulting in very different carbon emission outcomes.

With funding from Woolworths and expert advice from the Australian Wine Research Institute, the Harvest Company hopes that their Life Cycle Assessment, will transform over a third of melon production in Australia.