Seventy-four per cent of respondents, who were given the opportunity to remain anonymous, agreed with the statement: ‘Environmental and sustainability issues are now paramount to consumers’. A further 16% strongly agreed.
Only one in ten disagreed or strongly disagreed. The survey covered a range of topics, including skills and training and NPD, and was solely sent to senior managers working in the industry.
Results were shared exclusively with delegates at Food Manufacture’s Business Leaders’ Forum (BLF) 2020, held at 30 Euston Square in London on 21 January and sponsored by Walker Morris and EDF.
The public’s environmental concerns
Respondents also indicated that the industry was taking action to meet the public’s environmental concerns.
For example, an overwhelming 94% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: ‘Reducing packaging weight or recycling are key priorities for us in 2020’.
The data also suggested that lifecycle management was a priority for many, with 91% claiming their companies were assessing their products’ environmental impact across the whole supply chain.
While some admitted they were not currently measuring their businesses’ carbon emissions, 66% claimed their firms had met their targets in the past year.
BLF attendees debated if the industry was doing enough to mitigate its impact on climate change. For some, the amount of engagement in eco-friendly initiatives was dependent on the costs and commercial returns these entailed.
However, chairman of the event Geoff Eaton – also chairman of New England Seafood and executive chairman of Butcher’s Pet Care – told the audience: “Good business practice can deliver for the environment and profit.”
Alex Smith, managing director and founder of Alara Wholefoods, said a core aim of the organic foods firm was to create a sustainable food production system. Achieving this meant adhering to environmental goals, economic targets, such as ethical trade with suppliers and customers, social aims uniting local community stakeholders, and responsible governance.