Ways Businesses in the Food Sector Can Promote Sustainability

The world’s population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2037 and 10 billion by 2054, yet these milestones will likely be reached much sooner. Farming and production practices must, therefore, be adapted to ensure a stable and sustainable food supply for the future.

The food system since the middle of the 20th century is one in which mounting demand drives increasing levels of production, creating an unsustainable system that lacks resilience, leading to several failures.

Most businesses have an adverse social, economic, and environmental impact. As consumers become more conscious of the environmental impact of their choices, it’s necessary to adapt to meet their expectations.

The good news is there are many sustainable practices businesses in the food sector can implement to reduce their carbon footprint and improve their bottom line. Examples include but aren’t limited to:

Limiting Water and Energy Use Throughout Business Operations

The food sector is one of the biggest consumers of water and energy, so conservation measures must be taken to reduce the use of electricity, fuel and water for long-term sustainable growth. The demand for water and energy is set to intensify in the coming years, mainly driven by population growth, rapid urbanization, changing diets, and economic growth.

As these resources are becoming increasingly scarce and more expensive, the ability to sustain progress, especially when it comes to sustainability and the environment, is being reduced. You must weave sustainable solutions across your business operations.

Four main areas must be considered when minimizing water usage, namely processes, equipment, facilities, and personnel. The nature and results of the strategy will be unique to your circumstances.

By way of illustration, you can reduce dust and foreign materials entering the facility so as to minimize the need for cleanup. A lower-pressure, lower-flow system can save water. Energy usage has always been high in the food sector.

If your clean and service equipment still uses up a lot of energy, invest in energy-efficient equipment. Understand energy ratings, identify the right appliances, and leverage long-term savings. 

Using Products & Ingredients from Local and Organic Suppliers

Local sourcing preserves and promotes biodiversity, to say nothing of traditional production know-how. The main advantages of buying locally are the freshness of the products and ingredients, awareness of the origin, and contribution to a more sustainable food system.

Local sourcing shouldn’t be confused with domestic sourcing, as a product or ingredient can be found in a specific geographic area, even if it crosses the national border.

Evaluate the environmental and social performance of a supplier prior to awarding a contract for goods and/or services. Quality, authenticity, and sustainability are closely intertwined.

You may need to start from scratch or rethink your business plan. Managing networks of suppliers is one of the most critical steps in initiating organic sourcing, so make an effort to meet suppliers and source information on their businesses.

The supply chain of cocoa, for instance, is very complex, with various intermediaries to bridge exchanges. A cocoa company is responsible for maintaining quality standards – how it enters the market depends on the quality of its cocoa beans, supply capacities, and export experience.

Aim to look for companies that are certified and comply with existing regulations governing the importation of raw materials.

Using Packaging That Demands Less Natural Resources

Packaging contributes to efficient distribution, simplifies storage, and offers food handling information. Nonetheless, it requires the use of natural resources like water and energy, meaning packaging has environmental consequences.

Food packaging is designed for single use and discarded after a short while, creating a considerable solid waste issue. The costs of collecting and processing plastic waste are higher than the revenue generated; the more it’s reused, the more toxic it becomes.

You can use less packaging by promoting more streamlined designs or prioritize the use of renewable resources, such as compostable or biodegradable materials. You can use corrugated cardboard for packaging large items.

Tackling Waste in the Supply Chain

Reducing loss and waste throughout the food supply chain helps reduce the environmental impacts of agriculture, enhance the livelihoods and incomes of chain actors, and improve food and nutrition security.

Some of the main causes of waste are excessive production, poor inventory management, and consumer/retailer demand for perfectly aesthetic food products, to name but a few. As long as your suppliers are aligned with you and heading towards sustainability, you can continue to apply pressure for change.

Partnerships are more than just transactions. A food ingredients wholesale supplier can help you reduce waste by educating you on the best practices, which can include providing recipes on how to use leftover ingredients.

When you become a problem-solver, it’s possible to drive industry-wide change. It’s recommended to carry out a waste audit to distinguish your food waste footprint, totaling the amount of waste your business operations create.

What you must do is combat or divert the by-products in line with the framework of your company and locally available options.

For example, you can donate to nonprofits. The development of more sustainable alternatives to reverse the current food scenario is challenging because food waste prevention must be addressed at all levels (international, national, regional, and local). Measures range from social awareness campaigns to new enterprise models.

Becoming Committed to Offering a Portfolio of Plant-Forward Products

Consumers are proportionally choosing plant-derived foods to the detriment of meat and dairy products. Research shows that plant-based diets reduce and offset carbon emissions generated by the meat and dairy industry, so a switch to veganism may not save the planet, but it certainly saves tons of carbon dioxide equivalents.

The rising demand for meatless sausages, veggie burgers, and dairy-free milk only illustrates the environmental implications of our food choices. By reducing your reliance on meat and dairy production, you can reduce your business’s carbon footprint.

Existing food companies are moving to secure their positions in the market, internally via product development and innovation and externally via the acquisition of new disruptor brands.

The Takeaway

All things considered, going green and embracing sustainability isn’t just beneficial for the environment but also for your business.

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