Client Spotlight: Q&A with Nicole Flewell, Director of Sustainability at Taylor Farms
Taylor Farms is North America’s favorite maker of salads and healthy fresh foods. The company focuses on innovation by consistently developing new products and improving production methods. Taylor Farms is family owned and based in Salinas, California with twelve operating companies and distribution facilities throughout North America.
REC Solar recently completed a solar installation at the Taylor Farms facility in Dallas, Texas, which is one of several solar projects for Taylor Farms. Beyond solar, the company has many renewable energy programs in place. We asked Nicole Flewell, Director of Sustainability at Taylor Farms, to talk more about these initiatives.
Congratulations on your latest facility opening in Dallas and the completion of the solar project there. Can you tell us more about what prompted Taylor Farms to make such a big push to prioritize sustainability initiatives?
Thank you! It’s a very exciting time for us at Taylor Farms. Taylor Farms has always been committed to sustainability and being good stewards of the environment. We began making significant investments to renewable and alternative energy in 2012, and we haven’t looked back. Taylor Farms is always looking for opportunities to maximize value to our customers and grow in capacity as well. The consumer is changing and many want to find products from companies who have sustainability at the core of their business models.
For example, the 2015 Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report states that 66 percent of global consumers say they’re willing to pay more for sustainable brands. This aligns with our mission to provide sustainably sourced products.
Our goal is to make a difference and our retail, deli, and food-service partners recognize that vision and how it translates the story of the product, and our company, to consumers. It makes good business sense, it’s good for the environment, and contributes to raising the bar on sustainability within the entire industry.
What kinds of renewable energy investments has Taylor Farms made?
Our first major investment was in 2012 at our facility in Salinas, CA where we installed a 1 MW fuel cell made by Bloom Energy that converts fuel into electricity through a clean, electro-chemical process. Since then, we have installed a wind turbine, four major solar installations, a cogeneration project as well as a water recycling plant.
Are there any unexpected ways that these investments in renewable energy have impacted your business?
Our commitment to renewable energy projects has brought many benefits to our business. Not only do these investments make good business sense, but they continue to motivate our employees and customers. It’s a great feeling to know that the company you are working for, or purchasing your healthy meal from, is making such a large commitment to doing the right thing.
What advice would you give to other companies in the food industry who are looking at solar?
Solar power, and other forms of renewable and alternative energy are a great way to manage energy costs in a predictable way and create a platform for promoting sustainable business practices. It’s important for companies in the food industry or any other sector to understand their energy profile to identify the best mix of alternative energy investments that can help the company meet their energy goals. Every company should understand their energy usage and establish an energy strategy for achieving and tracking their goals.
What sort of feedback have you received from end customers, employees, partners and retail buyers about the sustainability efforts?
Taylor Farms’ investments in sustainability projects have been widely embraced by customers and partners nationwide. We plan to continue pursuing opportunities to lead renewables projects across North America, with each project taking the company one-step further in its dedication to minimizing our environmental footprint, while delivering healthy fresh foods to our consumers.
To see more about the Taylor Farms sustainability efforts, visit http://www.taylorfarms.com/art-of-growing/sustainability.