Martinelli’s Apple Juice

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Imani Johnson
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After being in business for over 150 years, Martinelli’s traditional approach has helped them run a pretty sustainable operation. Although they may not have the latest technology, having their orchards, manufacturing, and shipping facilities all located in Watsonville, CA since 1868 reduces their transportation emissions tremendously. I think they have made a real effort to think about their manufacturing process and ways to reduce waste where they can. However, I think they need to have more ambitious goals that meet the needs of our modern environmental problems. For instance, they give little info on their emissions within their manufacturing and transportation processes.

What it's made of:


Martinelli’s apple juice is made of 100% apple juice. Generally, apples are a sustainable crop given that apple trees are regenerative and double as a carbon sink. According to Cornell’s Department of Horticultural Sciences, an acre of apple trees absorbs an average of 11-12 tons of carbon dioxide during the growing season. With Martinelli’s over 300 acre orchard, these trees absorb over 3,300 tons of CO2 per season! However, one major downside is that this product is not certified organic, which gives concerns about agricultural run-off. Martinelli's claims that they “use only Integrated Pest Management methods to address potential or actual pest issues.” Integrated pest control is defined as an ecosystem-focused strategy that prevents long-term pests through a combination of organic and non-organic methods. In this system, pesticides are only used if monitoring indicates they would be beneficial to target a pest in the long term, and are applied in ways that minimize risks to human and environmental health. This sounds great, but it would be helpful if Martinell’s demonstrated their own approach to integrated pest management and what techniques they use. Despite this, Martinelli’s seems to be taking steps to transition into organic agriculture. In 2016, they opened their first organic apple orchard and have since produced a line of organic products.

How it's made:


The process begins when the apples are handpicked by the local farmers Martinelli’s partners with. From there they are washed, sorted, and ground into pulp before being cold-pressed into juice. Once the juice is created, it is flashed-steamed to kill bacteria and then quickly cooled.

Starting with the farming process, the company has transitioned from sprinklers to drip and micro-sprinkler irrigation which has allowed them to increase their water efficiency by 25%. To reduce land use, they have planted their new orchard in a high-density format to allow more efficient harvesting and higher yields per acre. However, Martinelli’s did not mention how this format may affect soil health in the area, and what steps they are taking to prevent adverse effects. In terms of biodiversity, the company took local barn owl populations into account by teaming up with the Future Farmers of America to build owl boxes around their orchards. This allows owls a safe place to nest without affecting the apple trees. In return, the owls play a major role in managing rodent populations.

When it comes to their manufacturing process, Martinelli’s does not provide much information regarding the emissions these machines produce and have no clear goals to reduce emissions. However, they have taken their apple waste into consideration by donating all pulp as cow feed to local dairy farms. The company also has its orchards, production, storage, shipping, headquarters, and visiting center in Watsonville, CA, which cuts down on its transportation emissions tremendously. This, however, doesn’t take the transportation needed to sell their juices to the 42 countries they export to into account. Additionally, Martinelli’s doesn’t provide any information on these transportation processes. In terms of packaging, this product is made with recyclable glass, although some Martinelli’s products are made with 100% recyclable plastic. 

Who makes it:


Martinelli’s was founded by Stephen Martinelli who immigrated to the U.S. from Switzerland when he was just 15 years old. He came to live on his brother’s farm in Watsonville, CA, and has produced apple juice and cider in the same place since 1868. The company is now run by John Martinelli (a fourth-generation descendant of the founder). Top leadership consists of 6 people (two are women and three are people of color). The company also totes its high retention rate, since the average length of employment at Martinelli’s is 19 years. I’d love it if there was more transparency about the working conditions that have led to this retention, as well as diversity and inclusion efforts throughout the rest of the company.

Martinelli’s is also a certified Green Business according to the California Green Business Network. The California Green Business Network is a third-party certification that verifies the company’s headquarters and manufacturing facilities are enforcing the following: recycling all materials used to make their products, installing low-flow toilets, only using cleaning products with the “green seal”, using efficient LED bulbs, using office and toilet paper with 35-100% recycled content, avoiding paints, markers, and air fresheners with volatile organic compounds, using remanufactured toner cartridges, using Energy Star rated appliances and office equipment, disposing chemical products in an environmentally safe manner, and encouraging employees to use public transportation.