Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Why food and drink businesses should consider the sustainable supply chain

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Within the food and drink industry, sustainability is becoming more important. As a consequence, there is an increased awareness of the environmental impacts from the supply chain.

Changing consumer behaviours based around environmental values are providing real opportunities for businesses to stand out in the marketplace.

Without a doubt, the way food and drink products are produced, transported and disposed of all contribute to the sustainability score of an organisation.

We explore these factors in further detail, discuss what effect they could have on your food and drink business and make suggestions as how you can play a part in protecting our planet.

Better for consumers

There is a noticeable consumer trend towards purchasing sustainably sourced products.

Be it when choosing which fish to eat at a restaurant, opting for a locally produced soft drink at a café or selecting a catering supplier with green credentials, consumers are now taking informed decisions about where their food and drink comes from based on their desire to reduce their impact on the environment.

This makes business sense - according to Visit Scotland, businesses promoting locally sourced Scottish produce report up to 20% higher sales. That means that those food and drink companies that offer sustainably sourced products will reap the benefits of this growing movement for choosing more ethically sourced products. It’s a win-win as long as businesses are clear about the steps they are taking to help consumers make good choices.

Better for business

In addition to the changing habits of consumers, there are other factors which make sustainable sourcing financially beneficial for food and drink businesses.

Firstly, how about cost savings? Sustainable food and drink options are often available at a local level - this can dramatically reduce delivery charges. In addition, having your suppliers close to you will allow better control over purchasing with the option for smaller, more frequent deliveries that reduce upfront costs, and lessens the risk of financial loss due to waste.

Did you know that businesses in Scotland that fail to take all reasonable steps to separate their food waste could face fines of up to £10,000? In Northern Ireland anyone who fails to comply could face a fine up to the statutory maximum or on conviction on indictment to an unlimited fine. The benefits of producing less waste means you are less likely to be penalised.

Read up on food waste and what you can do.

Better for the planet

By sourcing carefully, we can cut down on waste, harmful emissions, and pollution and encourage everyone involved in the food chain to play their part. Be that the consumer who is presented with ethically sourced, environmentally-friendly produce, or the supplier who responds to your calls for greater transparency into how they source or manage their business to reduce their impact on the planet.

It is only by working together that we can continue to make progress and become an even more environmentally-friendly sector. That can only be positive for the planet.

Find out more about how you can cut your carbon emissions and the benefit this has on the planet.

It’s clear that by sourcing sustainably, food and drinks businesses are able to make positive change in the world.

As the availability of sustainably sourced produce becomes a greater issue for consumers, those who can cater for this increased demand stand to profit, whilst those who do not offer sustainable options are likely to see negative results.

Add to this the financial and environmental benefit of sustainable sourcing, and it’s clear that choosing sustainable options and adopting sustainable practices yourself are good ideas for food and drink businesses.

Find more guidance on environmental regulations for food and drink industry businesses on the NetRegs website.

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