Heinz Is Using Fortnite To Push Its Environmental Efforts. We Ask Why
Cristina Kenz, chief growth & sustainability officer for Heinz tells us why Heinz's latest play for gaming puts soil in the spotlight
16 March 2023
Heinz has announced its latest play in gaming, aiming to shine a light on the world's declining soil health.
To drive awareness, Heinz has created a one-of-a-kind island on Fortnite inspired by Heinz’s tomato growers’ farms, designed to educate consumers on the fundamental role healthy soil plays as part of our food systems. Heinz is calling out an S.O.S., asking players to help change the course and ensure it’s not game over for its tasty tomatoes and food, grown from healthy soils.
Playing in the virtual world will have a positive impact on the real world, with Heinz helping to protect an extra 13.5M m2 of soil (equating to more than 1600 football pitches). Players will also be able to experience Heinz’s tomato growing journey in the game, starting in greenhouses that house infant tomato plants, which are then transplanted into fields where they grow into mature tomato plants. In 2020, the brand made a commitment to further enhance its sustainable agricultural practices to protect good food for future generations to enjoy.
The island’s scenery includes Heinz-branded tomato farms that demonstrates some of the sustainable and regenerative practices that Heinz supports in the real world such as crop rotation.
Players will be able to access Heinz’s S.O.S. Tomatoes Island from March 16, entering code ‘1877-1435-6432’ on the island code page found on Fortnite’s “Discover” screen.
We ask Cristina Kenz, chief growth & sustainability officer for Heinz, why it is business critical for the brand to focus on communicating its stories around sustainability.
Kenz joined the company in 2020. Her previous experience includes leading the reinvention of the Danone Essential Dairy & Plant Base business as general manager marketing Spain, and Marketing VP South Europe. Prior to Danone, she was the global marketing officer for Lay's brand at Pepsico.
Creative Salon: When did Heinz make its commitment to regenerative farming and why is it so important to the company?
Cristina Kenz: In 2020, Heinz made a commitment - as the world’s largest processing tomato buyer – to do more to enhance our sustainable agricultural practices to protect good food for generations to come.
When it comes to Heinz, it all starts with its delicious tomatoes, which is why we also committed to achieving sustainably sourced ketchup tomatoes globally by 2025. Through this commitment Heinz is building better soils that will not only feed its unique tomatoes but has the potential to also help store carbon, an important pillar in Heinz’s roadmap to aim to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
To support our ambition and help our growers succeed on this journey with us, we have joined the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform. SAI Platform is a global food industry initiative, advocating sustainable agriculture to help protect the future of our favourite foods. Working with stakeholders across the food and agriculture value chain, it encourages the sharing of knowledge and best practices so that sustainable agricultural methods become the mainstream. And the norm.
Beyond the FSA, we are also proud to be a Founding Member of SAI Platform’s new Regenerative Agriculture Programme. This helps us go even further to help build a body of knowledge across the food and agriculture industry that doesn’t only advocate sustainable practices, but also promises to provide measurable, impactful outcomes for people and the planet. While we’re committed to an ambitious and vital sustainability journey, helping to maintain the planet’s soil health isn’t something we can do alone. This partnership also provides us with opportunities to collaborate and partner with others on the journey to amplify our positive impact.
Creative Salon: How do you monitor and implement sustainable agricultural practices among your suppliers?
Cristina Kenz: We're on a journey to support our growers and suppliers – helping transition their existing practices to approaches that support regenerative outcomes. We’ve been working closely with our suppliers in Spain, California & Brazil to improve their soil health, encouraging the adoption of crop rotations, introduction of organic manures, and the use of cover crops. This is all designed to replenish the soil gradually and naturally.
Creative Salon: Why did you choose to do this campaign in Fortnite?
Cristina Kenz: A key feature of Fortnite gameplay is the progressively shrinking island. So, knowing that we wanted to shine a light on the rapid rate in which the world’s soil health is declining - while also exciting gamers to play - what better way than to make our own island that shrinks even quicker than usual - 33 per cent quicker to be exact.
In addition, when it comes to protecting the planet, the younger generation are one of the most engaged tribes. And with 88 per cent of Fortnite players aged between 18-34 years old, the platform also presents an opportunity to speak directly to this audience who have an active interest in environmental issues too.
Creative Salon: Beyond this initiative in Fortnite, will you be doing more to communicate your commitment to 100 per cent sustainably sourced tomatoes by 2025?
Cristina Kenz: We are indeed. There’s lots more to come so be sure to keep an eye out.
Creative Salon: What else is Heinz doing to improve sustainability with its other products and with its packaging etc?
Cristina Kenz: Our ESG strategy prioritizes the issues that matter most to our business and stakeholders, focusing on areas that have the greatest impact. It includes three key pillars:
Healthy Living & Community Support – We’ve set ourselves ambitious goals that include reducing total sugar in our products by more than 60 million pounds across our global portfolio by 2025, Increasing our plant-based offerings and providing 1.5 billion meals to people in need by 2025 against our 2019 baseline.
Environmental Stewardship – We’re committed to reducing our environmental footprint and encouraging our suppliers to do the same. We aim to make 100 per cent of our packaging globally recyclable, reusable, or compostable by 2025, achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, with a near-term target to reduce emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 across all three scopes, and reduce water use intensity by 15 per cent across our manufacturing facilities by 2025, to name just a few goals.
We recently created a new innovative cap for our plastic Heinz Tomato Ketchup bottles using a single, rigid and more recyclable material – resulting in both the bottle and cap being 100 per cent recyclable.
In 2022, we teamed up with Pulpex to develop a paper-based, renewable and recyclable bottle made from 100 percent sustainably sourced wood pulp.
3. Responsible Sourcing - We aspire to work with our entire value chain to continually improve on social and environmental factors and some of our boldest targets include Sustainably sourcing 100 per cent of our Heinz Ketchup Tomatoes by 2025, Sourcing 100% of eggs globally from cage-free or better hens by 2025 and working with animal welfare experts and suppliers on best practices to eliminate painful procedures and promote sustainable practices.