KANSAS CITY — Food and beverage companies are constantly under pressure to do more to ensure environmental protections and reduce waste. Yet this relentless pressure from non-governmental organizations like Oxfam International, the World Wildlife Fund and others often masks the strides the industry, its suppliers and customers have made.
Food and beverage companies have embraced sustainability and as a new report from the Grocery Manufacturers Association shows, the efforts under way throughout the category are widespread. They cover all aspects of sustainability, including air quality, waste reduction and water management, and focus on the sourcing of raw materials, carbon reduction and conservation.
Both General Mills and the Kellogg Co. have made sustainably sourcing their most important raw materials a priority. The Ocean Spray cooperative has redesigned its supply chain with an eye toward greater efficiencies and carbon reduction.
The Campbell Soup Co., Mom Brands and the Hershey Co. have focused some of their efforts on reducing packaging waste. Efforts that may appear to be small, such as removing cardboard inserts from packaging or selling cereal packaged in a bag rather than a box, are yielding quantitative results.
Sustainability also is proving to be good for business. The efficiencies achieved often improve the bottom line, and from a marketing perspective such initiatives allow companies to align their aspirations with those of their customers. Pressure to continuously improve will remain constant, but as the most recent corporate social responsibility reports issued by Kellogg and the Dr Pepper Snapple Group indicate, companies are up to the task.What food and beverage companies have accomplished to date is impressive and should be recognized. That there is more work to be done is obvious, but the strides made to date offer a positive outlook for what is to come.