1. Action is Urgent. 

“With the mounting pressure of climate fluctuations, biodiversity loss, and social inequality, the need for businesses to transition towards regenerative strategies is more urgent than ever,” stresses Anand Swaroop, Ph.D., Founder & President of Cepham. “Embracing regenerative practices enables businesses to contribute positively to environmental and social well-being, fostering resilience and creating shared value for all stakeholders involved.”

2. Sustainability is only the start. 

“Sustainability is about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” says Julianne Gardner, Marketing & Communications Coordinator, Stratum Nutrition. “It’s a good goal, but it’s not enough. The world is facing a number of existential threats, including biodiversity loss and social inequality. These threats are not just environmental; they are also economic and social. Regenerative business is a new approach to business that goes beyond sustainability. It seeks to create a net positive impact on the environment, society, and the economy. Regenerative businesses are not just trying to reduce their negative impacts; they are trying to actively improve the world around them.”

Six of the nine planetary limits are already exceeded, reports Marc Philouze, Gnosis by Lesaffre General Manager. “Maintaining the current state of our environment is not a viable and sufficient option anymore. Where sustainability focus is now falling short, we are striving to create regenerative practices that act to reverse the current trends toward a healthier ecosystem by giving back more than we take from it.” He notes that at Gnosis by Lesaffre, the ambition is to work together to better nourish and protect the planet.

3. Moving beyond sustainability is vital. 

Gretchen Moon, Vice President, Commercial Operations at Planteneers, explains, “Moving beyond mere sustainability and focusing on regenerative business practices has become increasingly vital in the face of a growing global population, expected to reach 10 billion by 2050. The current methods of raising animals for food are putting immense strain on the ecological balance of our planet. This pressing challenge necessitates the search for sustainable food options to meet the needs of this expanding population. Embracing a regenerative approach is at the core of the mission at Planteneers, a company dedicated to helping brands create plant-based alternatives for animal products that benefit both the world and its inhabitants. The urgency to go beyond sustainability arises from the understanding that simply maintaining the status quo is insufficient to safeguard the future. Sustainability focuses on conserving resources and reducing negative impacts, but regenerative business takes it further. Regeneration involves actively restoring and revitalizing ecosystems, resources, and communities. By adopting regenerative practices, companies like Planteneers recognize the importance of giving back to the planet and leaving a positive legacy for future generations.”

“The urgency to go beyond sustainability arises from the understanding that simply maintaining the status quo is insufficient to safeguard the future. Sustainability focuses on conserving resources and reducing negative impacts, but regenerative business takes it further.”

—Gretchen Moon, Planteneers

4. It’s about agriculture… 

As our climate continues to change, it’s becoming increasingly clear that our food system needs to change along with it,” says Ashley McKeon, Director of Regenerative Agriculture, Cargill. “Climate change is causing more frequent and severe weather events, shifting growing seasons, and declining soil health. To meet the demands of a growing global population, we need to ensure that our food system can adapt to these challenges and continue to produce enough food—grown sustainably and responsibly. We believe transformation starts where the food system begins—at the farm. These changes—such as the adoption of regenerative agriculture practices—will help to reduce emissions, improve water quality and use, increase productivity, and build up healthy soils for future generations.”

Annie Eng, CEO, HP Ingredients, adds, According to the Regenerative Farmers of America, regenerative agriculture is a step further than sustainability practices as it helps to improve the quality of the earth, while rebuilding natural systems through rotational grazing and no-till farming, the latter which leaves the soil in situ between crops. Sustainability isn’t about improving the earth from which herbal raw materials are grown. That stated, both practices are similar in goals—to work with nature in a respectful manner instead of against it. For our industry members to focus on regenerative practices, they need to work with the farmers and growers to learn and employ these practices. It all starts here. There’s much work to do but we are certainly convinced that the good actors in our industry are headed there.” 

Regenerative agriculture practices are an important part in supporting the environment, promoting food security and protecting resources for generations to come, agrees Michelle French, Director, Global Sustainability Programs, ADM. “These practices—from cover crops to fertilizer efficiency and reduced tillage—support crucial biodiversity, as well as improvements to soil health, water quality and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.”

5. …and about nutrition. 

“The key principles of regenerative farming include managing soil health through practices such as crop rotation that improves the nutrient content and water retention capacity of the soil, crop biodiversity, minimal or no use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, water harvesting, and integration of livestock into the farming system,” says Kelly Gilroy, Vice President, Sustainable and Natural Products, Univar Solutions. “Regenerative farming not only produces nutritious food for healthier eating, but also increases soil quality and mitigates the negative impacts of climate change.”

6. …but it’s also about so much more. 

Regenerative businesses are on a mission to make the world a better place,” maintains Pål Skogrand, VP Policy and Impact, Aker BioMarine. “When it comes to our industry, the nutraceuticals market, this should be a no brainer. It’s our job to provide nutrients to people across the globe to make their lives healthier. Equally important is keeping the earth healthy. For a business to thrive in our industry, applying a regenerative business model is imperative and it goes beyond just being ‘sustainable.’ One of the most important ways to ensure a regenerative business is to have a sustainable supply chain in place. Circularity is also an important component.”

7. Thinking holistically is central. 

“To successfully transition to regenerative business models, organizations must adopt holistic approaches that consider environmental, social, and economic factors,” explains Gardner. “This involves integrating regenerative practices into core business strategies, collaborating with stakeholders, investing in research and development of sustainable technologies, and measuring the positive impacts on ecosystems and communities.”

Regenerative models go beyond reducing waste and emissions to promote the restoration of natural resources and improve, rather than simply sustain, the ecosystem in which they operate—and they can do this in many ways, according to Luis Solera, CEO at Bioiberica. “It’s a fairly new mindset in the business world, but we’re seeing a growing number of companies adopting a regenerative mentality and investing in programs and principles that support it. For example, more companies are taking steps to improve water usage by helping to identify inefficiencies in infrastructure and operations, supporting flood management initiatives, and driving enhancements in wastewater treatment. Responsible forestry is also a key focus. A regenerative approach here seeks to improve the resilience of forests by supporting local biodiversity conservation and replenishing trees. Not only does this help forests to thrive, but it also provides economic and social benefits for local communities.”

8. We must avoid greenwashing. 

“Sustainable, as a definition, has many examples, but the one I like is ‘something that is able to be maintained at a certain rate or level; or conserving an ecological balance by avoiding the depletion of a natural resource.’ It’s simple, clean and on message for the natural products industry in which we serve,” says Andrew Hebard, Founder & CEO at Natures Crops International. “However, I question how many products or processes that are called sustainable actually live up to this definition. Sustainability has become a bit of a woolly term, and is used somewhat in a binary context—is it, or isn’t it? There’s a risk that if we check the ‘yes’ box to the sustainability question we feel our job is done.”

9. Measuring the company's environmental footprint is essential... 

Nelleke Barning, Global Head of Sustainability HNC at dsm-firmenich, which is formed of two global sustainability leaders, outlines the company’s approach: “We’re determined to keep growing our positive impact—for the good of people, climate, and nature. We’ve long been working to improve the lives of people around the world, both now and for the generations to come. Now that we’ve merged, we can achieve more than ever, thanks to our science and innovation, our responsible approach to business and sourcing, and the commitment of close to 30,000 talented people. For us, sustainability is not a buzzword—it’s intrinsically embedded in our purpose of bringing progress to life. And in that purpose, you already see the word ‘progress’, which is about more than sustaining—it is about progressing towards a better world, for people and planet. As such, dsm-firmenich enables its customers to deliver healthy solutions through sustainable innovations, advocates for system transformations and improves its overall environmental footprint. In addition, the company’s progress so far is indicative that it is committed to championing a more sustainable world by accelerating its pace of change with ambitious goals, science-based targets, and a transparent approach to accurately measure the environmental footprint of individual ingredients. After all, what good is progress if we’re moving in the wrong direction?”

10. ...and traceability and transparency are key. 

“Consumers—and retailers—absolutely do their due diligence, so if a supplier or brand manufacturer wants to claim or use the term ‘sustainable’ then it needs to be true and easily traceable,” points out HP Ingredient's Eng. “Thankfully, there are many agencies, associations, and experts who can work with brands (and retailers) to ensure they are following acceptable sustainable practices. When this is in place, another critical step to take is to educate the sales and marketing team about what those practices are, how the brand is employing them, and why.” 

11. We need to keep evolving.

“By necessity,” Hebard says, “sustainability is a pretty subjective term, and is usually limited to a set moment in time. What is a sustainable supply chain today, might not allow for any growth in demand or assume that the underlying resource is immune from depletion, when it could well not be.” 

The most important thing is to do your part, Gilroy stresses. “Set goals, communicate clearly so your stakeholders can do their part, and walk the talk. Regenerative business practices will continue to emerge, and committing to learning and embracing new ways of working together is key to our collective success. Last year, 51% of our customers reported Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals, and sustainable and natural was the third most important characteristic when choosing new products. We have come a long way in a short period of time and the pace of change continues to accelerate. At Univar Solutions, we are committed to doing our part in chemicals and ingredients and our continued ESG progress reaffirms that our people are helping build a business that delivers financially, environmentally, and ethically, and creates a better future for us. As we like to say here at Univar Solutions, sustainability is something we choose to think about ‘Today. Tomorrow. Together.’”

12. Consumers can help light the way. 

“We also believe in interacting with your consumers to engage them in the process by relating their feelings, experiences and feedback about sustainability and regenerative practices,” says Eng. “To quote former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, ‘How’m I doin’?’ is an effective way to ensure you are keeping your promises of following sustainable practices.”

13. One step starts it. 

“In an ideal world, all of our actions and their consequences would be sustainable, but no doubt we are a long way from that, and it’s unrealistic to achieve complete sustainability,” acknowledges Hebard. “Therefore, where businesses find they have a unique or advantageous position to become regenerative, even in just one area, I think they should embrace that and implement strategies to help in the global balance sheet of what we take versus what we replace.”

14. Success breeds success. 

“Across the spectrum of businesses we work with, including our farmer suppliers, our ingredient and brand partner customers and our stakeholders generally, I feel there is a genuine desire to be more sustainable and to find ways to implement policies of continuous improvement,” says Hebard. “To do this most effectively, I think adopting an objective interpretation of sustainability is almost essential. Putting in place a process to ‘measure, mission, and mean it’ can be very impactful, even if it’s just one item, for example water or renewable energy usage. This allows for a targeted and results-based approach that can demonstrate what you, your business, and your team are doing to serve people and the planet for a regenerative future. Success breeds success!” 

15. Aim to progress, always

Take the example mindset from Natures Crops International as an example: “Our moonshot is to establish Ahiflower as the most regenerative source of essential omegas for human and animal wellness, and in doing so, build a virtuous circle of life: growing plant derived omegas using regenerative agriculture to produce omega rich ingredients for regenerative nutrition, health and wellness, and as consequence regenerate the abundance of our ocean’s small oily fish populations (e.g. anchovies, sardines, menhaden) that are the cornerstone of one of the planet’s most important food-chains as it relates to climate change and all round planetary health,” Hebard says. “No doubt this is an ambitious target, but each acre of Ahiflower produces as much oil as 500,000 anchovies…every year. Is this going to solve or mitigate climate change? Of course not, but like that wonderful Margaret Atwood quote ‘Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For indeed, that’s all who ever did.’ We are a small team, but we try to take a serious, authentic and holistic approach to our place and impact for a sustainable future.”

In the market of marine-based omega-3 fatty acids, Ståle Søfting, Sales and Marketing Director, GC Rieber VivoMega says the company is a leading producer of marine and algae omega-3 concentrates from the ocean, and is aware of its responsibility to maintain the world’s fish stocks as a sustainable resource and produce algae oils in a regenerative and eco-friendly manner. “Our social responsibility is to maintain a sustainable environment within our entire business operation. This is important to the long-term success of the omega-3 industry. By focusing on improvements within the business and actively using internal expertise to drive economic, environmental, and social change, we believe that the omega-3 industry can better support international sustainability programs.”

16. The future depends on action. 

“Focusing on environmental aspects is critical not only to the industry’s longevity, but also to the planet,” says Søfting. “People, especially the younger generations, are more vested in environmentalism, and they understand that it takes all of us to make a difference…We go about our business with a strong sense of responsibility towards our customers, society, the environment, and each other. Implementing eco-friendly, sustainable, and regenerative practices has been a core pillar of GC Rieber VivoMega since its founding in 1965.”

Gardner encourages: “As leaders and pioneers in our respective fields, we hold immense power to shape the future of our world. We’re at a critical stage where the choices we make can define the trajectory of our collective future. The challenges we face are undeniable. Environmental degradation, social inequalities, and economic disparities shake the foundations of our society. As stakeholders, we have a responsibility to respond with purposeful and sustainable actions. It is undeniable that the choices we make as businesses have far-reaching consequences. Our operations can either contribute to environmental degradation and social inequality or pave the way for a more just and sustainable world. As conscious corporate citizens, we must embrace the latter path and be catalysts for transformative change.”

17. Collaboration can spark greater results. 

“Planteneers encourages other industry companies to embrace a similar philosophy that serves both people and the planet,” says Moon. “They emphasize the importance of forming partnerships with shared missions. Collaboration between companies with aligned goals can lead to significant positive impacts on global sustainability efforts. By collectively working towards making plant-based, sustainable products the norm, the industry can create a healthier world for everyone. The call to action from Planteneers to other industry players is to join forces in producing better-tasting alternative foods that are both beneficial for consumers and positively impact the environment. By working together and prioritizing regenerative practices, the industry’s collective efforts can drive positive change and make a substantial difference in building a healthier and more sustainable planet for generations to come.”

Skogrand’s call to action: “As leaders in the health and wellness industry, companies across the supply chain are expected to have the highest levels of integrity and standards in helping to raise the bar globally. Consumers take supplements to help enhance their health and wellness with the assumption that the companies they are buying from are simultaneously being responsible and helping the planet. This should be a prerequisite for our industry and nothing less.”

“Three enduring trends—sustainability, food security, and health and well-being—are shaping the global food landscape,” adds French. “We’re focused on feeding people around the world while keeping what’s best for the planet top of mind. From working directly with farmers to shortening supply chains and giving back to grower communities, we’re dedicated to creating a more secure and sustainable food system. Companies across the value chain can also embrace these methods to support the responsible production of food.”

We are all experts at what we do, Solera points out. “But to enable real transformative change and break down barriers to progression, collective action is essential. This requires an ‘all hands-on deck’ approach and collaboration across the entire supply chain. Shared expertise and best practices benefit all involved—especially people and the planet.”

18. Change can be swift. 

In 2017, Rodale Institute, Dr. Bronner’s, and Patagonia, led by Executive Director Elizabeth Whitlow, other members of the Regenerative Organic Alliance including Compassion in World Farming, Fair World Project, and the Textile Exchange, teamed up to form the Regenerative Organic Alliance (ROA), a nonprofit organization that oversees the Regenerative Organic Certified stand. Now, ROA shared the news of a major milestone: one million acres of Regenerative Organic Certified agricultural land spanning farms and ranches across 28 countries and six continents. And they accomplished this in less than five years through collective action. What’s more: In the marketplace, there are 575 Regenerative Organic Certified products on the shelves and more than 100 fully licensed brands working with the Regenerative Organic Alliance.

“Dr. Bronner’s, Patagonia, Rodale Institute, and others came together to establish the Regenerative Organic Alliance because industrial agriculture is an ecological and ethical disaster, destroying ecosystems and rural communities around the world, impoverishing millions of workers and farmers, and immiserating the lives of billions of animals confined in factory farms, fed feed from chemical intensive monoculture deserts that covers over half of U.S. farmland,” said David Bronner, Cosmic Engagement Officer (CEO) of Dr. Bronner’s, in the announcement. “The term “regenerative’ was rapidly being co-opted by industrial agriculture, while a holistic approach that considers organic soil health, animal welfare, and fair labor was often missing from the conversation. The Regenerative Organic Alliance was created from this need and is already yielding real results on one million acres of Regenerative Organic Certified farms around the world.”

19. Tech and innovation make it easier. 

“As an integral connector of the global food system, Cargill has an opportunity, and responsibility, to protect the planet as we fulfill our purpose of nourishing the world safely, responsibly, and sustainably,” says McKeon. “We know agriculture plays an important role in addressing global challenges like climate change and food insecurity, but that is only possible when sustainable solutions are economically viable for the producers who work hard every day to feed the world. We also recognize that it will require collaboration across the food industry to bring transformative change to scale. That’s why we’re working to bring together farmers, industry, academics, NGOs, and policymakers to create a more sustainable agricultural sector. That’s our vision for the future, and every day, through technology and innovative programs all over the world, it’s becoming reality.”

20. If this industry doesn’t drive positive change, who will? 

“It  is imperative that the natural product industry takes the lead in adopting regenerative practices,” says Swaroop. “As stewards of the earth’s natural resources, it is not just a responsibility, but an opportunity for industry to redefine its role in society. By prioritizing regenerative strategies, the industry can ensure a stable supply of high-quality ingredients and materials, enhance brand reputation, and foster consumer trust. Transitioning to regenerative business models is no longer a choice but a necessity. It’s time to shift away from merely doing less harm towards actively doing good, for the people and the planet. The natural product industry has the power to set a precedent for others to follow. Let’s harness this power and make a regenerative future a reality.”

People, Planet, and Profit are all part of the bottom line, Philouze adds. “For decades now, the nutrition industry has been a leading advocate of a holistic approach to people’s health and well-being. It is now clear to everyone that a healthy planet and a clean environment are foundational components of such well-being. To stay true to our industry’s mission, we need to look at it with this broader lens and put Planet on par with People in our consideration.” 

Every company has a part to play in the health of the planet, Barning stresses. “The collective reduction of carbon emissions by the health science industry can significantly contribute to mitigating climate change. dsm-firmenich believes that finding the balance between what people individually want (the desirable), what the world collectively needs (the essential) and what the planet demands (the sustainable) is crucial.. We hope that by leading the way, others will follow our vision to bring progress to life with solutions that protect people and the planet.”

21. Ongoing education is essential. 

Stay tuned for expanded coverage on WholeFoodsMagazine.com for an in-depth look into how industry companies are adapting regenerative business practices and the specific actions they are taking. WF


“Enabling real transformative change and breaking down barriers to progress requires an ‘all hands-on deck’ approach and collaboration across the entire supply chain. Shared expertise and best practices benefit all.”

—Luis Solera, Bioiberica