HOW FOOD AND DRINK BRANDS ARE TACKLING SUSTAINABILITY

Maddie Cullen
15 August 2018

The country took a collective gasp when they saw the state of plastic pollution in our oceans last year. Since then sustainability has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds. People are checking their carbon footprints and that starts by looking at what they eat and drink.

We make choices about our food and drink multiple times a day and it’s become more than just what flavour to go for. Where does it come from, what is its environmental impact and what does it mean if we buy it?

Production

There is a growing attachment to provenance. Consumers want to know every detail of how food gets from the ground to their plates. People can easily research where individual ingredients come from, which means they can find out if it’s sustainable or not.

Strawberries may grow happily in England in summer, but to be able to eat them all year round, supermarkets have to look further afield and suddenly the innocent berry has quite a big carbon footprint behind it.

local farming strawberries

This has sparked conversations about local and seasonal shopping. People are starting to realise the benefits of great tasting British food and seasonal cooking. The Cornish Seaweed Company are one brand that’s maximising on trends but sticking to sustainability.  More people want healthy snacks and the brand is a perfect offering. People can buy happy in the knowledge they can trace the ingredients right back to the source

And yet 40% of British crops are wasted, so we still have issues even when shopping in our own country. But a few start-ups are tackling this by taking in surplus, misshapen or other-wise useable fruit and veggies to make tasty products. London-based ChicP makes hummus with raw vegetables that would otherwise go to waste. Similarly, Get Wonky use ugly fruits in their soft drinks.

Packaging

But it’s not just the ingredients in food and drinks that makes a difference, packaging is one of the most important aspects of a sustainable future.

Single-use plastics are polluting our planet, so many brands are being pushed to provide alternatives. Pukka Herbs recently gained new customers with their plastic-free tea bags, making them a minority in the hot drinks sector. They have a focus on sustainability with the rest of their packaging too, using cardboard casing and recyclable materials.

sustainable packaging Happy Eggs                 (Image: Balance)

It stands to reason that more brands should sort out their packaging as 57% of people think it’s wasteful and unnecessary. There are so many sustainable options available as well. Although it may be a little pricier, 80% believe it’s important to offer eco-friendly packaging and the majority are willing to pay more for it too.

People

Sustainability goes beyond products to people as well. Veganuary doubled their participants this year, with UK vegans reaching over 3 million, as people take the leap to more sustainable eating practices.

And people at the top of brands are taking action as consumers are take on people power and vote with their wallets. The founder of Bol, Paul Brown, recently removed all of the fish, meat and dairy from his nutritious ready meals. Although this meant an initial drop in sales, Paul saw the vegan movement and opted to provide what people wanted.

And it’s not just small brands, supermarkets themselves are taking steps to run more sustainable businesses after pressure from the masses. M&S come out top of this list following their ten-year ‘Plan A’. This tackles climate change, waste, and resources setting them as the top on the list of sustainable UK big businesses.

There are many different steps to take towards a more sustainable future. Whether it’s ingredients, packaging, production or the bigger picture, each effort earns loyalty points with consumers looking to eat their way to a better future. 60% of millennials believe they can make a difference through their choices, and brands that help them along the way are sure to come out on top.

(Cover Image: Digital Spy)

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