KANSAS CITY — In today’s political climate, regulations and policies on environmental issues seem to come and go with every election cycle. But elections cannot stop the wave of consumer support for companies who adopt sustainable initiatives. People continue to vote with their dollars for products and brands that think about — and act on — their effect on the environment.
Focusing on sustainability is important not only because of the effects on sourcing, pollution and energy use but also because of the business implications.
“Consumers are pushing the industry to be more sustainable and thoughtful in business practices,” said Ahmad Hamade, chief executive oficer of CraftMark Bakery. “They drive change through their pocketbooks.”
Baking and snack companies are weathering all sorts of changes in the political and social environment. And sustainability has become a hot topic at many industry conferences. During a panel at the BEMA Summit earlier this year, Tracie Sheehan, chief health, quality and sustainability officer for Aryzta, joined Sravani Janga, project engineer — environmental global engineering for the Campbell Soup Co., and Elysa Hammond, director of environmental stewardship at Clif Bar & Co., to discuss sustainability. Ms. Sheehan stressed that the core objective of sustainable practice is that it must be attainable.
“You want to make sure you are establishing goals that are achievable on a year’s basis — not just something that’s way out there,” she said.
“Sustainability” as a buzzword will likely permeate conversations in 2018. The theme at the American Society of Baking (A.S.B.)’s BakingTech conference, to be held February 25-27 in Chicago, is “Sustainability — Success Through People, Products and Productivity.” The term includes several aspects of business, whether it is creating a culture that attracts and retains employees longer to reduce turnover, reducing energy usage and water to save on utility costs, or refining the production process to create better efficiency. Baking companies must focus on sustainability in today’s market because consumers are making purchasing decisions based on it.
“Sustainability is a focus for us because it is the right approach to improve the health of our planet, and it helps us manage our business costs as we spend less money on electricity, gas, water and waste,” Ms. Sheehan said. “Furthermore, listening to our customers and consumers is good for business, and we value their feedback.”