Southern Enterprise Awards 2023

SME News Southern Enterprise Awards 2023 | 18 Even in 2012, De La Tierra was shockingly ahead of its time, with a push towards sustainability long before the current wave of ecofriendlier processes. And, arguably, there are few areas where this push is needed more than in the agriculture space – so often it has been a case of supply not meeting demand, often resulting in wellpublicised shortcuts or regulatory undercutting. Naturally, there’s nothing of that sort of thing happening here, far from it. Indeed, De La Tierra seeks to set best practices in this space and enable others to ‘level-up’ their agri-businesses towards long-term sustainability throughout their operation. Enter its expert-driven consultancy solutions, as Athanasios explores in his opening comments. “Our vision is to promote sustainable and equitable agricultural supply chains. There are three key activities: One, the import and trade of fresh produce and ingredients. Two, consultancy to the agrifood sector, and three, offer access to key technologies to reduce food loss and waste and extend the shelf-life of food and drinks. Our trade of goods includes UK and continental retailers, processors, and wholesalers. Our consultancy is to various UK and international firms. “Some of this consultancy is in a technical capacity, typically assisting firms in third countries with market access and supply chain optimisation, but increasingly in a sustainability capacity, i.e., developing sustainability strategies, designing and implementing flagship sustainability projects and undertaking materiality risk assessments for leading food and drinks brands, and designing and developing international sustainability standards.” It's no secret that food loss and food waste is a colossal issue impacting countries the world over, highlighting, on one hand, the need for more sustainable processes, and on the other, a need for greater logistical efficiency. Partnering that with a huge environmental impact in regard to producing enough food for human consumption, and you’ve got a dangerous combination in urgent need of tackling. Here then, De La Tierra is a much-needed force on the greater landscape, pushing for change and development where it is sorely needed. “Our work has historically centred on sales of modified atmosphere packaging to UK and international producers, exporters, importers, and retailers. Whereas this helps reduce postharvest losses, our short to mid-term strategy is to develop innovative green technologies to valorise agricultural by-products and create clean label solutions to extend the shelf-life of food and drinks. This can be achieved with additional societal benefits, such as reducing sugar to mask citric acid used to preserve food and drinks,” Athanasios adds, highlighting a singular expertise in this area that highlights the company’s overall innovation-driven approach. Founded in 2012 by Athanasios Mandis, De La Tierra Ltd (De La Tierra) has become one of the premier drivers in the agrifood space, dedicated to promoting farming communities around the globe through trade and technology. As SME’s Most Sustainable Agrifood Consultancy for 2023, we were eager to speak to Athanasios for a sneak peek behind the curtain. Though, saying that, this innovation extends further and permeates all tiers of the business, acting to inform almost every ‘movement’ the team makes in terms of its services, as Athanasios continues. “Our mission increasingly relies on technological and systems innovation to support our expertise in our field and create new opportunities. Ultimately, we have a strong foundation and a 360-degree worldview of agricultural supply chains. This foundation sees us working with international supply chain actors and explains how our boutique firm has developed a hybrid product and service mix offering. Whereas this may explain our diverse portfolio and resilience as a boutique firm, our unique selling point is much more subtle than that. Debussy wrote that music is not made up of notes but the spaces between them. Our strength is operating in that Most Sustainable Agrifood Consultancy 2023