Sustainability is a growing trend in the food and ingredient industry. More than just saving water or reducing carbon footprint, sustainability also encompasses ethical concerns, accountability and the protection of future ingredient supply.
In this article, we look at some of the different approaches to sustainability being taken by food and ingredient manufacturers and consider how taking the initiative on this issue could offer significant opportunities.
Sustainability of supply
Global flavours company Givaudan is establishing stronger links with producer communities to ensure a sustainable future supply of raw materials for its flavour range.
The company has five ongoing sourcing initiatives, including one working with with local communities in Madagascar to improve traceability to ensure a long-term supply of sustainable, Fairtrade vanilla. The initiatives focus on improving the education of producer communities and establishing best practices for harvesting and production methods to safeguard quality.
As more consumers and manufacturers become aware of sustainability as a desirable trend, ingredient suppliers will be increasingly called upon to prove their efforts to safeguard sustainable sourcing methods. This is a good example of an ingredient company taking the initiative to establish sustainability policies before the issue becomes a consumer expectation.
Sustainability policies and reports
Flavours and fragrance company IFF has published its first annual sustainability report. The report, Sustainability: The Essence of IFF, is a whole-company analysis of the company’s operations, covering all of its wholly-owned and majority-owned subsidiaries. Recent companies to publish sustainability policies include Unilever, Nestlé, Coca-Cola, Groupe Danone, Kraft, PepsiCo, Grupo Bimbo and General Mills. This new level of accountability provides manufacturers and consumers with important reassurance.
It is widely acknowledged that collaboration will play a vital part in developing sustainable practices, processes and products. Fairtrade NGO Café Direct Producers’ Foundation has launched WeFarm, a peer-to-peer knowledge exchange service linking tea, coffee and cocoa farmers across Africa, Asia and Latin America, using simple SMS messages from mobile phones. As mobile phone coverage is far greater than internet access, particularly in rural producing areas, this technology allows networks to be created with a ‘bottom-up’ effect on the development of more efficient farming strategies With world population estimated to reach nine billion people by 2050, more sustainable farming methods will be a key consideration for future crop production. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is another example, begun as a collaboration between WWF and Unilever in 1997 but now fully independent, seeking ways to adopt a ‘whole market’ sustainability strategy for the fish sector.
The food industry is well-placed to set the agenda on sustainability - while it is still a growing trend and before governments move to legislation. Not only can manufacturers provide important information to consumers to raise awareness of reducing waste and carbon footprint, they can also define the way forward for new farming methods, sustainable sourcing and ethical food production.
This information is taken from our SuperTrends Local:Global report. To buy your copy, CLICK HERE.