Rising energy costs, climate risks, foreign competition, growing consumer and retail demands – Canadian food manufacturers have never been under more pressure to perform in an increasingly complex business environment. By adopting sustainable practices manufacturers can strengthen their ability to compete and win in today’s fiercely competitive marketplace.
A sustainable business is a business that creates financial value, knows how their actions affect the environment and actively works to reduce those impacts, cares about its employees, customers and communities and works to make a positive social change.
#1 Recognize the Business Opportunity
Sustainable business models could open up to US$12 trillion worth of economic opportunities and increase employment by up to 380 million jobs by 2030.
By helping drive progress towards a more sustainable planet, companies can help to secure stable and reliable markets over the long term and unlock new markets and opportunities for growth. Research shows that brands that have integrated sustainability into their purpose and products grow 30% faster.
#2 Define Your Purpose… Beyond Profit
A purpose driven organization aims to maximize benefit and profit. Defining your businesses purpose is key for having a resilient, sustainable and scalable organization. Consider the benefits of your products and services, the problem(s) your business is solving, the legacy you are creating, and the impact you have on your community and society.
In defining your organization’s purpose use aspirational language, be brief but rememberable and ensure it is meaningful to your employees and stakeholders.
#3 Create a Sustainable Business Strategy
An effective strategic plan should align your team to a common vision, measure performance, and drive daily decision making.
It’s important that the leadership team be engaged in the strategic planning process. Typically, the strategic plan begins with development (and agreement) of the purpose and vision statement. This is followed by the development of strategic pillars. Strategic pillars represent the elements that are critical to the company’s success and assist in providing a clear focus for the organization.
More and more businesses are utilizing the UN’s 17 Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) , many of which directly reference the food system, to identify focus areas for their organizations. Businesses will play a large role in meeting the challenge of achieving the SDGs.
Eighty-two out of 100 blue chip companies (companies known to weather downturns and operate profitably in adverse economic conditions), demonstrated commitment to the SDGs in their 2016 annual reports, either through explicit statements about the goals or implicit actions that support them. The baseline for any company should be to ensure that its operations are not hindering global development towards these goals.
#4 Take Action (Case Study: Ontario Meat Processor Reduces Waste)
Cutting waste cuts costs, maximizes profits and reduces environmental impact. A recent assessment completed at an Ontario Meat Processing Facility identified $286,000 in resource savings associated with wasted product at the facility, with an aggregate payback of less than one month.
Manufacturers often associate the cost of food loss + waste with the disposal or diversion of waste; however, this does not capture the lost investment from the ingredients purchased but not sold, or the embedded water, energy, greenhouse gases, labour and nutritional calories at the time of loss.
In this example, the Ontario meat processor identified an additional $2,584 of wasted natural gas, electricity and water that were embedded in the food, further strengthening the business case to correct the problem.
In addition to the cost savings for the meat processor, the recommended food loss + waste measures are equivalent to 279 tonnes of GHG emissions and 257,212 meals annually!
#5 Measure, Monitor and Report Performance
Assess and benchmark your business performance to evaluate your position within the industry and build realistic performance targets. Identify your strengths and potential gaps in performance in the four core areas of business: operational excellence, people, products, and partners.
Peter Drucker, ‘Father of Management’, was quoted saying, “What gets measured gets managed”. Develop your Key Performance Indicators and goals and ensure they are tracked and shared internally with employees, because when you align employee performance targets to your goals it will help establish accountability and drive performance. For those KPIs that align to SDGs goals, report them externally to your key stakeholders to demonstrate commitment, and build trust and transparency.
This article originally appeared in BlockTalk in December 2018.