Major players in the food and drink industry are increasingly using sustainability benchmarking as a tool for future-proofing their business. Call it a trend or simply a new way of working, it’s catching on and for good reason. 

With companies becoming increasingly under the spotlight, coupled with mounting pressure from the media, consumers and digital influencers alike, sustainability practices are no longer a luxury, they are a commercial necessity. Not just because it’s the right thing to do or because it generates good PR but because the future of our planet relies upon it.

Times aren’t a-changing, they have changed

As we have edged further into 2019, we continue to experience political instability, more pronounced climate impacts and accelerating rates of biodiversity loss. While the scale and complexity of the sustainability challenges we face is daunting, there is also cause for optimism. 

We are also seeing unprecedented leadership and innovation driven by businesses, and advocacy by Generation Z, alongside rapidly growing awareness about issues such as plastic pollution. We expect this growing momentum to drive much-needed progress on critical social and environmental issues this year and as we enter 2020.

Under the spotlight

As a result of this global narrative, manufacturer eco standards are very much under the spotlight when it comes to sustainability, especially larger-scale operations. Yes, doing ‘the right thing’ is great CSR, it helps with employee engagement and builds reputation among consumers. However, good sustainability practices need to also happen on a micro level, and above all, the motivation and intention needs to come from an authentic place.

We are all too aware of the responsibility we hold for future generations, for our planet. That’s the long-term goal but having the right sustainability practices will also allow a business to differentiate from its competitors. It’s also a way for an organisation to demonstrate its innovation, creativity and credibility. As food sustainability consultants, that’s why we created Thrive. We help food businesses become more resilient and fit-for-the future, to close the food sustainability gap.

The challenge

Meeting the right sustainability standards is now part of the license you need to do business. It’s no longer a ‘nice to have’; it’s a commercial imperative. If you fail to meet sustainability standards your customers expect, you may lose their business. It’s a very real and very serious consideration, for now and the future.

Being really honest

It’s essential to take a close look and really be honest about sustainability within your business. Are there some areas where you thrive? Does that feel ‘enough’? Or are they just a few hand-picked areas that you shout about to consumers, the media and your partners? There will always be other things you could do but, well, that can wait for now. That’s a common thought process. But what is more important than future-proofing your business? If others were to examine you a little closer, how is your business functioning on a micro level? The small things are equally as important.

The real need

Awareness of sustainability issues have grown and there is a functional requirement to go beyond the bare minimum. Customers expect it. The challenge is that customers don’t accept that ethical choices should equate to higher prices. The other challenge is the pressure brands feel from documentaries and social media, competitors. 

On the other side of the fence, making ethical decisions for consumers can be complex. However, the desire to do the right thing is strongly ingrained in most people. 38% of influencer shoppers* say they will always buy environmentally sustainable food and grocery products in the future, and businesses will need to find ways to make it easier for shoppers to make informed decisions. 

Why it’s essential

As consumers increasingly make purchasing decisions based on ethical considerations, businesses must respond. The best initiatives address consumer demand while delivering secondary business benefits.  It’s important to lead and deliver on difficult issues and we can help you do just that.

To identify and manage your commercial risk, you need to anticipate and adapt to future changes in standards and build a leadership position across the industry. 

Don’t just survive…THRIVE

Here at Veris Strategies, we have an in-house team of food sustainability experts who work with food manufacturers on their sustainability plans, to help future-proof their business. In short, we help bridge the sustainability gap. In turn, our findings and solutions can be implemented and then communicated to your businesses stakeholders.

We give companies a compelling case, recommendations and opportunities that can be transformed into action, into concrete examples that you can live by and shout about. Places where you can make a tangible difference. Visibility on sustainability performance offers commercial advantage in a challenging business environment. 

Our bespoke tool - Thrive – is a 360-degree appraisal tool. It’s built to overcome organisational blind spots by providing a complete evidence-based assessment of your overall business performance against leading global sustainability standards and four key pillars: governance, environment & resources, society & people, and value chain. 

Thrive will help your business build strength, stamina and agility.

Thrive is easy to use, commercially focused and always up to date. We use benchmarking as a service. We effectively audit your sustainability practises using online tools that are easily accessible by employees from different departments. It takes just two weeks for us to complete our initial research, with help from your employees. There will of course be some face-to-face assessments, collaborations and explorative meetings.

We then present you with our findings against all the relevant standards, peer benchmarking and we analyse and fix your commercial issues. Everything we do is up to date and evolves when you do. You’ll receive real time alerts on key risks and we can help you to anticipate and adapt to future changes in standards.

Sounds very futuristic perhaps? It’s because it is. We’re the only company in the UK to offer this comprehensive and cutting edge approach in food sustainability benchmarking. Thrive turns your sustainability risks to commercial advantages by delivering business value on the bottom line in terms of efficient, growth and resilience.

The short smart answer to future-proofing

The bottom line is that it is now essential to identify critical food sustainability gaps in your practises, it will enable you to scale up your game, deliver productivity and efficiency gains, measure effectiveness and place a value on sustainability investments.

This will not only improve your customer relationships, build competitive advantage and unlock new markets but you’ll even be able to negotiate better contract terms. 

By placing smart and efficient sustainability tools at the heart of your business you can transform risk management into a commercial edge. We can help you transform your approach to sustainability, giving you the clarity you need to build business efficiency, competitive advantage and long-term resilience.

* Supply Chain Analysis IGD

climate strategies in action

BELAZU INGREDIENT CO

CRANSWICK PLC

MELTON FOODS (SAMWORTH BROTHERS)