Building sustainability in food manufacturing: Part 1

Factoring sustainability into your food supply chain can help to address growing consumer concerns and significantly reduce your carbon footprint. As an industry, UK food manufacturing is focusing more heavily on building sustainability into everyday practices. In the first part of our ‘Building sustainability in food manufacturing’ blog, we’re exploring some elements of the food supply chain that have the greatest environmental impacts and the potential for positive change.

A change in consumer priorities

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, expectations around sustainability and corporate social responsibility practices continue to grow. What the pandemic has done, however, is heighten these expectations, whilst also introducing increased concerns around product safety.  A recent report by Capgemini found that 77% of consumers will be more cautious about cleanliness, health, and safety” as a result of the pandemic.

This cautiousness affects the entire food supply chain, as a shift in consumer preferences sees product safety and hygiene driving purchase decisions.

Adding to this, consumers are also increasingly aware of the impact their food choices can have on the planet. Most notably, the role that individuals can play in reducing food waste is becoming a widely discussed topic.  According to Wrap, the government’s waste advisory body, UK households accounted for 70% of total food waste in 2018. Despite improvements since 2018, Wrap’s latest update reported household food waste had risen by nearly a third since lockdown measures eased.

In light of this, behaviours are changing and not just around decreasing food waste. People are being more mindful of other environmental elements, such as minimising single-use plastic use or having a smaller carbon footprint.

Safety in locality

As consumers move towards making more informed purchases that prioritise food safety and environmental impacts, we are seeing the emergence of a ‘buy local’ trend. A range of factors influence this, including:

  • The understanding that local produce is more trustworthy than imported products
  • The reassurance associated with having traceability with food purchases
  • The perception that local produce will naturally have a lower carbon footprint compared to imported products

End-users are adopting a more considered approach when it comes to making purchases. It’s not just about the product anymore, but the journey taken to bring each product to the retailer.

What does this mean for food manufacturers?

Retailers, food brands, and their entire supply chains are now exposed to a higher level of scrutiny than before. It’s also never been easier to research what measures businesses have in place to fulfil their social responsibility commitments. Employing sustainable practices is becoming a basic requirement that all businesses must adopt to help maintain consumer confidence.

These environmental expectations, combined with the spotlight being shone on food safety as a result of the global pandemic, are increasing the pressure.  Food manufacturers need to demonstrate that they employ robust hygiene processes whilst also showing they’ve considered the environmental impacts.

Hygiene is an area that offers an opportunity to reduce resource consumption whilst improving standards, benefitting business and consumers alike. Next week, we’ll take you through some of the ways your hygiene process can help you achieve your sustainability goals.

Want to know more?

Get in touch with our team today if you’ve got any questions, or check back next week to discover the key to an effective, sustainable hygiene process.