Farm to Table: Must's for Building a Green Strategy in Food and Beverage

Business.com / Industry / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

The food and beverage industry has a big carbon footprint. A green strategy will positively impact the environment and your bottom line.

Due to global climate concerns, as well as a number of other environmental and consumer-preference factors, businesses have begun focusing their advertising campaigns and marketing materials around sustainability and eco-consciousness.

But adopting green initiatives starts from the ground up, and there is much more to establishing eco-consciousness as a core value than simply marketing that intention to the consumer.

As the demand for food and beverage commodities continues to rise, the F&B industry must begin to adopt sustainability and environmental consciousness throughout production lines in order to mitigate the effects of higher demands.

Many of these changes require nothing more than simple innovation, but others require new strategies based on data and analysis gathered via supply chain management technologies. These technologies can help executives gain a more comprehensive view of their entire supply chain, and make concerted efforts to go green wherever possible.

Comprehensive Analysis of Supply Chain

Every action plan should start out with a comprehensive overview from which to work. Without clear insight, proper supply chain analytics, and real-time data, inefficiencies throughout the production workflow are much more difficult to identify and address.

A comprehensive green strategy begins with a comprehensive map of the entire supply chain. From there, production can be evaluated from start to finish. Take a look at your supply chain from the ground up, looking at each of the following areas:

  • Suppliers
  • Raw ingredients
  • Packaging
  • Use of nonrenewable resources
  • Energy consumption
  • The use of hazardous materials
  • Carbon emissions
  • Landfill deposits
  • Water usage

Once you have an overview of your supply chain, a risk assessment can be performed to identify where the focus should be placed in order to increase sustainability and enact green initiatives. Risk assessments should focus on all areas where sustainability and environmentalism may be in jeopardy, and then work from that assessment towards effective solutions.

Once areas of risk have been identified, it is much easier to go to the task of minimizing or rebuilding any negative or inefficient processes such as those that are fossil fuel-based, in order to replace them with greener solutions.

Much of this information can come from a good enterprise resource planning software system that helps you manage your supply chain, interpret data, and receive clarity about the entirety of your business from product planning to sales and marketing. By analyzing data and setting up measurable goals, you can effectively demonstrate real, quantifiable change throughout your operation.

Increasing Efficiency

Increasing efficiency throughout production not only speeds up a product’s time to market, but it also has a great impact on the eco-friendliness of a food and beverage supply chain. Reducing overhead and scaling back on facilities also lends itself to increasing the sustainability of the business. Efficiencies throughout the operation can help increase water conservation, lower fossil fuel usage, and reduce harmful emissions.

Oftentimes, process optimization just takes a little bit of innovation. Effective enterprise resource planning software can help a business review current workflows and search for sustainable solutions. From streamlining logistics to auditing usage and production, resource management technology can offer the transparency necessary to identify gaps and inefficiencies throughout. From there, the effective implementation of best practices is a much cleaner and clearer process.

Better Modes of Transportation

Fuel economy and emissions can be quite impactful where large fleets of automobiles are concerned. Lower CO2 emissions and better fuel economy can be obtained by simply moving to a hybrid model of automobile. Although more costly upfront, the environmental impact and fuel savings throughout the life of these vehicles can more than make up for the upfront costs of revising your own fleet or selecting form distributors that employ hybrid vehicles.

Increased Diversity

By making your green initiatives known and diversifying your suppliers, adherence and compliance can find time to shine. Competition between suppliers can help encourage them to seek out greener processes and keep their businesses legitimately in compliance with the food and beverage industry’s preference for sustainable processes.

By holding manufacturers, vendors, and suppliers accountable for implementing standards, best practices can be upheld and food and beverage manufacturers can be confident that their promise to maintain green initiatives as a core value remains intact.

Water Conservation

Water conservation is one of the most important sustainability issues faced by the food and beverage supply industry. Often, a large amount of water is used throughout production for heating and cooling, bottling, irrigation, washing, and more.

The large volume of wastewater produced is a perfect target for efforts to increase sustainability. By using filtration and disinfection techniques to reuse wastewater produced through manufacturing processes, the environmental impact of such practices can be greatly reduced.

Transparency

Green initiatives are about more than public relations. The act of disclosure not only helps consumers understand and place faith in your business, but it actually helps you maintain compliance by keeping these issues clearly in the public’s line of sight. This ensures that all aspects of the business are upheld and no corners are cut. With declarations of compliance with industry standard and regulations, complete cooperation with local and government bodies, and open and honest communication with the public, food and beverage suppliers have no choice but to maintain integrity throughout the entire business from raw material suppliers to packagers and distributors.

As food and beverage suppliers begin disclosing more and more information about their labor forces, their material sources, and their practices, the quality of those practices naturally increases. This helps build reputation and security in the buyer’s eye that they are purchasing products from a conscientious business.  

Because of the high demand and a growing population, the food and beverage supply chain’s impact on the environment is increasing. And as climate change brings about palpable change throughout the globe, the responsibility and sustainability of each food and beverage supply chain carries greater importance. Because food and beverage supply chains often have agricultural components related to use of water, employment of labor, and impacts on soil, the management of efforts to go green are complex. It requires extensive review, research, and planning in order for business owners and executives to remain true to their efforts to reach consumers through reliable, transparent, and sustainable practices.

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