Dispatches: AACCI annual meeting 2014

Sustainable baking now a ‘cradle to grave’ concept

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

Sustainability expert: 'Increasingly consumers want to know the whole story – cradle to grave – so now it’s our responsibility'
Sustainability expert: 'Increasingly consumers want to know the whole story – cradle to grave – so now it’s our responsibility'

Related tags: Sustainability, Baking

Consumers expect manufacturers to take responsibility for baked goods far beyond the production gate, says a sustainability expert.

Sustainable baking spanned a series of issues – from ingredients sourcing to eco-friendly production methods and packaging – and it was something that had gained fervor over the past decade, said Karen Trilevsky, sustainability guru and founder and CEO of FullBloom Baking Company.

But, Trilevsky said there had been a change in the level of expectation from consumers. A sustainable cradle to gate model – production to products leaving the manufacturing site – had long been followed, but expectations now stretched further, she told attendees at last week’s AACCI annual meeting in Providence, Rhode Island.

“Increasingly consumers want to know the whole story – cradle to grave – so now it’s our responsibility,”​ she said.

This meant working sustainably through production, transportation, purchase, consumption and even afterwards in terms of waste, she explained.

“The cradle to the grave is a bigger component and the consumer is asking for it – we’re starting to hear a lot of noise.”

Beyond lip service…

Sustainability started out as a nice concept to try and follow had now gained true traction in the bakery sector, Trilevsky said.

“Companies are realizing that it’s important; it’s critical and it aligns with their goals. It has gone way beyond being lip service.”

Sustainable_green_business

It was now about reputation management, she said. “Companies did it early because they were afraid that if they didn’t there would be a revolt from shareholders and consumers. Now there’s a lot more recognition with customers and consumers talking about it.”

In addition, companies now realized that sustainable actions saved money, she said. “At first there was a great fear that there would be a lot of resources and there would only be an outflow, but now companies are realizing that if they invest in a more environmentally sound building they use less energy, and if they measure metrics people deliver.”

Water, energy and CO2

There were a vast number of areas bakery manufacturers could exercise more environmental caution, Trilevsky said, and one of the main areas was water use.

Sustainable water use

“We use a lot of water and we get in trouble for the water we discharge.”

But, there had been a significant push among industry to reduce water use – using dry cleaning systems, for example, she said.

Bakers were also thinking more closely about transport options and how they could reduce their carbon footprint, she added, as well as green designs for buildings that incorporated heat recovery systems or better insulation.

Energy and CO2 emissions had been carefully considered by many bakery companies, she said, and these were two areas high on consumer minds.

Trilevsky said there had been huge progress made by many, but added there remained a “significant gap”​ between those achieving sustainable goals and those not focused on it that needed to be closed. 

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