The organisation’s senior commodities adviser Richard Perkins told BakeryandSnacks.com: “Savoury snack producers have a massive business opportunity [through sourcing sustainable raw materials] to reduce costs and to differentiate their products in an increasingly competitive market.”
The first step in unlocking business benefits is for snack producers to assess the key environmental impacts of their sourcing policy and wider business operations.
“The key environmental impacts are: Globally with regard to the carbon cycle and greenhouse gas emissions, the nitrogen cycle and nitrogenous fertilisers and biodiversity such as sourcing sustainable palm oil,” he said.
Speaking earlier this month at Savoury Snacks Summit in Brussels, Perkins recommended snack producers to adopt a three-point action plan. This included:
- Conducting a materiality analysis to identify companies’ big environmental impacts and dependencies.
- Buying ingredients from a verified better production source. For example, buying palm oil from sources which comply with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.
- Report measureable reductions in key environmental impacts.
Acting on this knowledge companies could agree contracts with primary producers that minimised environmental impacts.
Not only would this help snack producers to cut production costs, it would provide a market advantage, Perkins said.
“In addition to reducing costs, taking advantage of [environmentally] sound sourcing opportunities allows companies to differentiate their products and for their brands to become more credible and more trusted.
“Currently European snack producers have masses of room for improvement [in minimising the environmental impacts of their sourcing policies].”
Both from an environmental and a business perspective, no time should be lost in introducing such policies.
“Reductions in greenhouses gases need to done urgently. The sooner, the less we will have to do. It could make the difference between one billion people going hungry and two billion,” said Perkins.
From a business perspective, the sooner companies are able to differentiate their products as being sustainably sourced, the bigger the long term business advantage, he added.
For those companies that still doubted the business benefits of sustainable sourcing, Perkins quoted Walter Todd, PepsiCo's vice president of operations:
“I just think they are missing a huge opportunity in terms of productivity, employee engagement, employee pride, reducing reputational risk from regulators and the community as well as missing out on talent. Beyond all this is the personal satisfaction.”
In an interview with UK publication the Guardian, Todd said: “It's not just about doing what's right; there is a clear business case. It's great for your employees, they get it, because they want to be proud of being part of a good business, consumers get it, and customers like it as we reduce waste and packaging. Communities also love it, which is important given that 80 per cent of our employees live within 20 miles of our factories."
No one was available for comment from the European Snacks Association.