Stemilt Hits Milestone With First Equitable Food Initiative Certification
- by Jordan Okumura
WENATCHEE, WA - Stemilt has hit an impressive industry milestone, recently achieving the Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) certification at its Quincy, Washington, orchard operation. Back in 2019, Stemilt completed a successful EFI pilot. Now, its goal is to work with EFI and further bolster its operations by training and developing cross-functional leadership teams.
“Our team members are the driving force behind World Famous Fruit and our constant journey toward ensuring our fruit delights consumers,” said West Mathison, President of Stemilt. “A trusted certification like EFI helps us cultivate people who produce World Famous Fruit. Quincy is a large orchard that is now benefitting from the continuous improvement work of our 11-person leadership team. EFI provides valuable workplace skills training and helps us put processes in place to practice great communication and collaboration every day.”
In order to achieve EFI certification, more than 300 standards must be met. These include labor practices, food safety, and pest management, as well as emphasizing collaboration, respect, and food safety. For years, Stemilt has highlighted these values. According to a press release, this first EFI certification is a proactive step forward as the company continues to build itself around its vision, mission, values, and goals.
“Produce is a business where you must be able to quickly adapt to changing needs,” continued Mathison. “EFI’s soft skill training around leadership, communication, problem solving, and conflict resolution provides our team members with a way to adapt through continuous improvement. It will help us live and share Stemilt’s core values.”
Earlier this year, Stemilt’s executive team received EFI background training.
“Stemilt has made a commitment to intentionally cultivate a high-performing and inclusive organizational culture,” stated Kevin Boyle, Director of New Product and Business Development, Equitable Food Initiative. “They are working systemically and on numerous levels to enhance their culture, and we have found great alignment with their work and EFI’s workforce development programs.”
The Quincy, Washington, orchard, which supplies apples and cherries, went through a third-party verification audit conducted by SCS Global Services. The certification is valid for three years.
“We always say that World Famous Fruit is a journey, not a destination,” expressed Mathison. “There is always work to be done to achieve our mission and this first EFI certification is going to equip our team members to ensure we are always innovating.”
Stemilt noted that it will quickly expand the EFI program throughout its operations and work with EFI to certify all of its farms by 2021. It will also start implementing the EFI program at its packing facilities. Soon, Stemilt hopes to have teams across its network working on improvement initiatives.
What a huge step for Stemilt! We here at AndNowUKnow extend our congratulations.