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Celebrate Earth Day at Your Food Business by Getting Serious About Sustainability

Celebrate Earth Day at Your Food Business by Getting Serious About Sustainability

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Celebrate Earth Day at Your Food Business by Getting Serious About Sustainability

20 Apr 2022

John McCurdy
A hand holds a small globe with mountains in the background.

With the observation of Earth Day in April, it’s a great month for your food and beverage business to consider getting serious about sustainability. The statistics on the industry’s environmental impact should give you plenty of reason to jumpstart your efforts and start contributing to a solution.

Consider, for example, that approximately 25% of the greenhouse gases emitted annually are the direct result of food production. Agriculture—where most food and beverage supply chains begin—is also responsible for an 80% share of global deforestation, as well as 70% of freshwater use.

Then there’s the sheer amount of waste created by our food systems, totaling 1.3 billion tons and equating to $1 trillion worth of material investments being squandered. In the U.S. alone, 30 to 40% of the total food supply ends up in landfills, representing not only a tremendous negative impact on the planet but also a tragic mishandling of valuable resources with 1 in 8 Americans suffering from food insecurity.

Clearly, food and beverage companies around the world share a responsibility to clean up their act and get “greener” and leaner going forward. Let’s dive in now on some of the reasons why your organization should use this Earth Day as motivation to accelerate your sustainability initiatives and how you can make progress toward your goals via concrete methods.

Why Your Food and Beverage Business Should Strive for Greater Sustainability

Given the facts on the food and beverage industry’s negative impacts on the environment discussed above, the first and most pressing reason to work toward becoming a more sustainable business is to engage in environmental stewardship. With climate change growing into a more concerning issue day after day, it’s urgent that we act now to preserve the planet for future generations.

Beyond this imperative, becoming a more sustainable company can also help your brand and products appeal to eco-conscious consumers. A recent McKinsey & Co. survey found that 66% of all respondents—and 75% of millennial respondents—consider sustainability when they make a purchase, which shows that you stand to potentially gain ground in the market if you can meet that demand.

Additionally, minimizing the amount of your ingredients and finished goods that go to waste will help to cut back on avoidable financial losses. Any time you have to throw out materials in inventory due to spoilage or scrap a batch that was ruined by a faulty process, you’re effectively burning the funds you put into purchasing or producing those goods.

Finally, there’s the vital need to remain in compliance with all environmental regulations. This is crucial for your reputation, as well as dodging fines that government bodies might levy. Depending upon where your organization operates, you might be primarily concerned with the standards of the Environmental Protection Agency, the European Commission or another group—the key is knowing what you’ll be held accountable for and ensuring that you remain within applicable guidelines.


of all greenhouse gases emitted annually are the direct result of food production

How Your Food and Beverage Business Can Become More Sustainable

Obviously, the nature of your operations and the sectors that you focus on must be considered first when trying to determine new practices or improvements to implement in your sustainability journey. One strategy that works across the board, though, is responsible sourcing of materials and ingredients—Clif Bar is a good example of a brand making a difference with its policies on this front.

As evidenced by the gigantic carbon footprint of the food and beverage space referenced above, manufacturing and processing are resource-intensive activities, and that’s why it’s worth looking into alternative energy sources. Goya has been a pioneer on this front, now ranking among the top 10 corporate solar users in the U.S. food and beverage market, and their California facility has managed to reach net zero with its 3,000-plus rooftop panels.

Of course, it’s not just the products you make and the processes you use that have the potential to affect the environment—you must also take into account your methods of delivery to end consumers. Exploring green packaging and distribution options is a great way to help save the environment, and General Mills (with their commitment to 100% recyclable packaging by 2030) and Fleet Advantage (a third-party logistics brand that won Food Logistics Top Green Providers award in 2021) are leading the way.

One final strategy for becoming more sustainable as an organization is to look for opportunities to repurpose and upcycle your waste and byproducts. Some smaller businesses are basing their entire model on this practice—Matriark captures surplus produce from farms to be used in their soup and sauce bases, while Pure Plus takes “ugly” fruits and vegetables and turns them into a powdered sugar substitute used in their lines.

Facilitating Sustainability with Technology

The sections above should give you some “food for thought” when it comes to the reasons to become more sustainable as a company and how you can get on-board with the movement. Then again, you also likely realize that with any changes you make to your current practices come potential complications and at the very least a period of adjustment.

Nothing helps simplify and streamline such matters like the right technology, and the gold standard for food and beverage organizations today are enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. From giving you complete visibility and control over your supply chain for the introduction of sustainable suppliers to powerful data analytics that identify inefficiencies and help trim back on waste, these all-in-one solutions are the foundation of any good digital transformation for your future and the Earth's.

Our industry-specific food and beverage solution, Aptean Food & Beverage ERP, is not only packed with features that organizations like yours need—including bidirectional traceability functions, recipe management tools and the capability to integrate with smart devices to automate processes—it has also recently received a significant accolade from Frost & Sullivan. We also have clients that are embracing the above ideas and can provide advice on best practices for implementation at your own facilities.

Now, if you’re ready to hear more about Aptean Food & Beverage ERP and how it can help you manage your sustainability efforts, contact us today. You can also reach out to schedule a personalized demo to see the platform in action.

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