The American Peanut Council hired its first sustainability director. Eric Coronel’s first project will be a nationwide framework for collecting and analyzing grower data to use to tell U.S. peanut’s sustainability story.
“Today’s society demands that food is sustainably produced. At the same time, U.S. peanut growers must be able to make a sustainable living,” said Richard Owen, APC president & CEO, in a Jan. 5 statement. “Eric has the skillset and experience the peanut industry needs to document our sustainability story, to drive our own sustainable future.”
Coronel will be based in Tifton, Ga.
Coronel’s previously was the senior research analyst with Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture. Coronel oversaw the massive data collection and analysis that yields the alliance’s National Indicators Report. These reports, produced every five years, assess year-to-year progress of 11 U.S. commodity crops against indicators of environmental sustainability, including soil conservation, water use, and greenhouse gas emissions.
The reports also give recommendations to producers and other stakeholders to help continue commodity crops’ sustainability progress. Field to Market is also the developer of the Fieldprint Platform, the leading tool for growers to capture their farming practices and obtain sustainability metric scores field by field.
Coronel’s first project to work directly with U.S. peanut growers to gather data to document peanut’s sustainability story can be aggregated and shared with customers and consumers in the U.S. and abroad. In return, growers can apply what they learn from the sustainability platform to drive their own farm improvements and profitability. APC will produce tools to help the peanut supply chain communicate about peanut sustainability with their customers and stakeholders.
“U.S. peanut growers produce a safe, nutritious, and resource-efficient crop. I want to help peanut growers share their sustainability stories through data,” Coronel said. “This opportunity at APC checks off all my professional interests: working with growers, collaborating with stakeholders, analyzing data, and sharing results.”
Coronel earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in environmental science from Brigham Young University, and a Ph.D. in agronomy and crop science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He worked first for John Deere as a research agronomist before moving to Field to Market to specialize in sustainability.
“I love working with data, interpreting and communicating insights to drive decision making. I’ve been fortunate to sit in tractor and combine cabins, having many productive interactions with growers over the years, learning about their operations and sharing data and results with them so that they have a superior outcome,” Coronel said.
“I have had the opportunity to lead groups of stakeholders across the supply chain, including facilitating cross-sector dialogues. When sectors come together, that’s when growers benefit the most,” Coronel said.
Owen said the grower data collection and reporting is a significant industry-wide initiative and will be APC’s first foray into sustainability, but not its last.
International buyers of U.S. peanuts are increasingly imposing sustainability requirements, Owen said. U.S. suppliers must be able to compete with suppliers from countries with their own sustainability initiatives. APC also plans to explore ways for peanut producers to participate in carbon and other ecosystem services trading marketplaces.
“Sustainability isn’t just a factor in capturing market share, it’s also a business opportunity for growers,” Owen said.