Make the Commitment

Sustainable Practices 1

Manufacturing the modern bread movement.

By Barry Edwards

Now, more than ever, consumers care a great deal about where their food comes from, what goes into it and the impact their diet has on the environment. Because consumers care, so should you.

According to a study conducted by Hartman Research in 2017, 65 percent of consumers said it is important to them to purchase locally grown or locally sourced foods whenever possible. Another 63 percent said they are more likely to visit a restaurant if they perceive it to be environmentally or socially conscious.

Sustainability plays a big role in driving consumer perceptions about your brand. And if it isn’t already, sustainability should quickly become a core consideration among your leadership team when discussing new food launches, expanding your footprint and entering new food categories. Your approach to sustainability, much like social responsibility, needs to be ever present and always evolving. It’s important to think about how your brand can best protect your people, your food and the environment while leveraging global resources to improve ethical, environmental and economic outcomes.

Prioritizing Sustainability

It starts with prioritizing sustainability in all aspects of your business. For example, with clean label expectations rising among consumers, food manufacturers need to provide greater transparency around the origins of their ingredients. After all, the progressive consumers’ good food philosophy is an anchor in telling your story because consumers today are more socially conscious than ever.

Think about the good food movement – or more specifically the modern bread movement, which has revitalized consumers’ appetites for good artisan bread that’s made from wholesome, traceable ingredients like single-origin heirloom wheat. Today, 73 percent of US consumers who eat bread agree it's worth paying a little more for what they view as better quality bread.

With that in mind, it’s a no-brainer that bakers across the industry should rethink how they approach sustainability across their entire operation: Are you in a position to pursue Non-GMO verification for your foods? Can you implement a cage-free egg strategy or make the transition to using only sustainable palm oil? These small commitments are a huge differentiator for the brands that have gone the extra mile to do right by consumers – and are being rewarded with customer loyalty as a result.

We see it with the retail customers: People today care how their bread tastes, how it’s shaped, scored, proofed and baked. But it’s not just traceability that matters. Sourcing sustainable ingredients and helping consumers understand where their food comes from (from grain to loaf) is a huge factor – and is arguably the most consumer-facing one – but there’s so much more to consider when implementing sustainable best practices across your manufacturing facilities, and across all markets and categories.

Consider, for example, the waste that your sites produce. Companies who are serious about taking their site to the next level when it comes to sustainability should consider adopting a “Zero Waste to Landfill” approach where possible. It’s a goal that manufacturers share across many industries, from automakers to wineries to consumer goods companies, and even tech giants like Microsoft. In the food manufacturing industry, Sustainable Practices 2it starts with identifying new and sustainable avenues to reduce, reuse and recycle. In food manufacturing, that can mean sending your scrap food materials to a local farm to use as animal feed or a local compost center.

We’re all aware that the earth’s ecosystems are fragile and that environmental conservation is critical to the continued well-being of the planet. The green movement is one that many consumers have latched on to and so to win their business, a commitment to environmental sustainability is second to none. But this transition should not be burdensome; by establishing production metrics for monitoring waste, as well as electricity consumption, gas consumption, waste water intensity and overall carbon emissions, your sites can identify ongoing efficiencies and potential cost savings for your company to support your bottom line.

It’s important to consider all factors when investing in sustainability. The companies who are willing to commit to sourcing quality, ethical ingredients will prevail. At the end of the day, being a sustainable company by using less electricity, gas, water and recycling makes good business sense.

Barry Edwards is vice president, corporate responsibility & sustainability for ARYZTA Americas. ARYZTA is the third-largest global baking company with headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. In this role, Edwards leads the development of ARYZTA’s corporate social responsibility strategy and five focus areas: people, food, sourcing, environmental practices and community engagement. In the implementation of the strategy, he collaborates with ARYZTA’s leadership, brand teams, customers, bakeries and other functional departments. Edwards can be reached at barry.edwards@aryzta.com.

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