Going Back to the Source of Our Honest Lemonade

As you cool down with a refreshing Honest Organic Lemonade this summer, you may wonder where we find the organic lemons we use in our delicious drink.

To be open and ‘refreshingly honest’ about where we source our natural ingredients, we recently visited two family-run organic lemon farms in Murcia, south-east Spain, with Honest Tea co-founder Seth Goldman. And since we aim to be transparent about what goes into our Honest drinks, we invited media and influencers from across Europe to come along and learn more about sustainable, organic lemon farming and the positive impact this has on people and the planet.

Organic in action

The two families running the farms in Murcia switched from conventional to organic farming in recent years, and it’s been quite a journey for them. Organic farming means that they do not use any chemical pesticides or fertilisers. Instead, bugs and birds of prey work as natural pest controllers and bees take care of pollination.

Moving to organic takes courage and dedication, since the process can take many years and usually means higher costs and lower yields in the short term. But now the growers are bearing the fruits of their labour. The soil in the orchard is healthy, the trees are full of juicy lemons, grass and wild wildflowers are growing between the trees and bees are busy collecting nectar and pollen – it’s a thriving and biodiverse environment.

Organic farming does not mean that the lemon growers shy away from new technologies though, especially if these can help them save water – which is of crucial importance in Murcia, one of Europe’s driest and most water scarce areas. World-class sustainability practices at the farms include the latest drip irrigation technology, and the farmers even use drones to monitor tree and soil conditions and nanotechnology to help the tree roots absorb more water.

An Honest partnership

Finding the best sustainably sourced, organic ingredients has always been a core part of what Honest is about. “As we see Honest launch across Europe, it’s been especially exciting to see that it has absolutely stayed true to the founding propositions when I started the brand over 21 years ago: less sweet, sustainably sourced and organic,” says Seth. “We value the honest and healthy relationships we have with farmers, consumers and the ecosystem.”

To get the best sustainably sourced, organic lemons for Honest, The Coca-Cola Company has been partnering with Ailimpo, the interprofessional association of lemon and pomelo farmers in Murcia. As Honest grows, so does the demand for these lemons, benefiting the local farmers as well as the environment and biodiversity in the region.

“Six or seven years ago, during our first meeting, The Coca-Cola Company kept stressing that sustainability and organic are the future,” says José Antonio Garcia Fernandez, director of Ailimpo, who joined the group on the farm. “It really got us thinking. In some ways we can say that the company opened our minds, and we realized we had to move in that direction with them. Our partnership has really boosted sustainable, organic lemon farming practices in Murcia.”

More to come

The Honest brand is not done yet. “We’re on a journey towards fairer trade, less sugar, and less waste,” explains Alexander Isselhorst, Honest Marketing Manager. “We’ve made firm sustainability commitments for the near future: Honest Coffee will be Fairtrade certified by the end of this year and Honest Tea by 2020, and Honest plastic bottles will be made from 100% recycled PET by the end of 2020.”