Integrated
Sustainable
Thinking: A Critical
Necessity for Food
Companies

arabella bakker
Arabella Bakker
Director, Consultancy
and Communications,
Salterbaxter MSLGROUP

@Belautel

Not tackling sustainability as a business imperative is a risk to competitive advantage, security of supply, business agility and the ability to attract and retain both customers and employees. Food companies need to consider a holistic view of sustainability. Climate change, food security, health and waste are great issues of our time and require a wholesale approach to tackle them. These need to be considered across the entire business and within all decision-making processes, not as isolated concerns.

What’s cooking?

Nestlé’s Creating Shared Value addresses sustainability across the value chain.

Often, agricultural impacts in the supply chain are the most material issue for a food business. Not tackling supply chain issues will result in a lack of agility. However, focusing on positive impacts such as supporting capacity building with small holder farmers, investing in women-led agricultural enterprises, sourcing food crops sustainably and tackling the fuel and food debate are opportunities for reputational, as well as operational, benefits. Being a trusted partner delivers value to the business and to society.

At the other end of the value chain the sustainability expectations consumers have of business are growing. Consumers, to an extent, currently expect food companies to deal with sustainability issues so they do not have to worry about them. However, how sustainability feeds into consumer buying decisions is likely to change in the future. Consumer awareness is already growing on issues such as provenance, healthy eating and waste. This is set to continue and hence the actions companies take and communicate will be increasingly important.

Food companies can show leadership by proactively educating and supporting consumers in making sustainable choices. They can drive campaigns and advance solutions to issues such as crop management, food waste, sustainable and nutritious foods and sustainable living.

Sustainability is a business priority for food companies and they need to engage with all of their stakeholders on these issues, from consumers to regulators. Integrated thinking is critical today to secure food for all tomorrow.

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