No more greenwash


VSPressure from consumers and investors on the food industry to embrace sustainability is stronger than ever. In the past, greenwashing was the order of the day for many companies, talking about sustainability without making it a foothold. More recently, we have seen a distinct shift in sustainability efforts within the industry, with companies now taking the necessary steps to implement more sustainable practices, reducing waste and reducing carbon footprints throughout. the supply chain.
But why put more emphasis on sustainability now? What are the benefits? And, perhaps most importantly, what does sustainability look like in practice and how can companies ensure that they are implementing an effective strategy?

Why now?
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that we will need to produce 60% more food by 2050 if we are to feed a world population that is expected to reach 9.3 billion. This is no small feat and certainly something that will take a heavy toll on the planet if things continue as usual, with resource-intensive agriculture, production and distribution processes simply unsustainable in the long run. when you are processing such large volumes. Add to that the fact that about a third of all the food produced in the world is wasted each year, and the potential problem only gets worse. If production is to increase to meet demand, waste must be reduced considerably.
Although there are no specific regulations at the moment, we are seeing more and more food production companies voluntarily aligning themselves with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, recognizing the importance of putting the right ones process in place. More and more retailers are demanding strong sustainability credentials from their suppliers in order not only to meet their CSR goals, but also to differentiate themselves from the competition in a market where customers are increasingly concerned. the environment, in particular with regard to the carbon footprint of the products they consume. These demands on suppliers will only increase. Leave it too late to implement an effective sustainability strategy and food processors run the risk of finding it both impossible and unaffordable to implement one, lagging behind their more proactive environmental competitors. .

Additional benefits
But what about producers supplying retailers for whom sustainability will never be seen as a competitive advantage? Apart from image and CSR, what drives them to adopt sustainable development? Well, legislation and regulations will eventually come into force, stipulating exactly what represents sustainable production, so it makes perfect sense to move forward. There is also the potential to develop new sources of income, turning by-products and waste into additional sources of profitability, such as animal feed or biofuels and we are already seeing some manufacturers succeed in this approach, increasing their profits. while gradually approaching zero. – waste operations.

Sustainability in practice
In an effort to meet these sustainability goals, what exactly should food manufacturers do? As mentioned earlier, waste reduction is essential and not only in terms of waste, but also for efficient working practices, minimizing the amount of water and energy wasted by inefficient operations, with the aim of reducing l overall carbon footprint of individual products.
However, this does not only apply to producers, as any serious commitment to sustainability hinges on examining the issue of sustainability along the broader supply chain. Operations can be as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible in the factory, but it is essential that sustainable processes are on the agenda outside of that, both upstream and downstream, of the closes to the plate.
This need to demonstrate sustainability across the supply chain has prompted some food manufacturers to localize their supply chains wherever possible, as well as to demand evidence of sustainable practices from their suppliers. They have also adapted packaging and re-evaluated their transport methods, while striving to optimize factory efficiency. Some even help educate consumers on how they too can play their part in the sustainability agenda, whether that’s by recycling responsibly or changing their understanding of best-before and best-before dates. Savvy companies implement sustainability measures throughout the supply chain, making it an integral part of the very fabric of the organization. But, this is still not enough.
Often, it’s the bringing together of all this information that is the biggest obstacle. It is generally the responsibility of food manufacturers to provide this comprehensive information to the entire supply chain to retailers, demonstrating not only their own environmental credentials, but also the sustainability of each product.

Technology as a catalyst
This is where the right technology can help, providing the right platform where the manufacturer can collect the necessary information, from internal and external sources, and pass it on to the retailer. It really goes hand in hand with traceability, facilitating transparency of operations, throughout the supply chain, to deliver the right information, in the right format, in the right context, at the right time. The most efficient systems can connect all points in the supply chain, capture data from farm to fork, apply analytics and advanced AI to that data to deliver the insights needed for decision making that will improve not only sustainability, but also food safety and overall transparency of the supply chain as well. Additionally, this complete visibility across the entire supply chain, both upstream and downstream, enables more precise demand planning, with increased planning accuracy helping to further reduce waste.
While this is obviously beneficial for the food manufacturer, as it proves the sustainable credentials and carbon footprint of their processes and products, the information and knowledge available is useful for other purposes as well. Access to this comprehensive data highlights supply chain bottlenecks or inefficiencies, identifying exactly where improvements can be made to meet sustainability goals and also to optimize operational efficiency, by streamlining processes and at the same time achieving significant savings.
Ultimately, with the right tools in place, food manufacturers can pursue data-driven improvements in sustainability throughout the supply chain. The right technology provides access to the quality and transparency of information needed to make real progress in delivering on sustainability promises, thereby ensuring substantial savings in cost and efficiency. With the pressure to demonstrate a real commitment to sustainability showing no signs of abating anytime soon, food manufacturers should act now, leaving any sign of greenwash behind and genuinely delivering on their sustainability promises. fpj


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