Environment is King: Sustainability in the Food & Beverage Industry

Emanuele Del Rosso
5 min
January 31, 2020
The Twenties will be the decade of sustainability. This might seem a bold statement, but signs are coming from multiple directions and they all point towards the need for higher attention to the impact products have on the environment. The Food & Beverage market, especially in its beverage segment, makes no exception.

An increasing number of brands are putting on the market drinks that are free of polluting substances, produced in a more ecological way and bottled in more recyclable materials.

Naturally, one could argue, companies will "follow the money" and go for the most lucrative solution. Well, let it be so, then, because sustainability seems to be going hand in hand with profitability!

Profiting from more sustainable Food & Beverage products

As we said, multiple signs point toward an increase in the importance of the sustainable market in the FMCG sector. Marketers and business developers need to see such signs and act accordingly.

  1. First, this segment is growing. According to the Harvard Business Review "products that had a sustainability claim on-pack accounted for 16.6% of the market in 2018, up from 14.3% in 2013, and delivered nearly $114 billion in sales... Most important, products marketed as sustainable grew 5.6 times faster than those that were not."
  2. Second, customers want sustainable products and sustainable packaging. A recent survey by Business News Daily reports that over 80% of the interviewees claimed that it is extremely important for companies to design environmentally conscious products. This sentiment is reflected in the purchase choices of the people. The segment, especially within the F&B market, is growing, and this means consumers go for sustainable products more often - even if this means paying more for them.
  3. Third, sustainability is a good branding technique. This new year marks the beginning of a decade of attention to the environment, and this is obviously having an impact on consumers. The same survey by HBR shows that 71% of consumers are "actively buying more environmentally friendly products than they did five years ago."

This means an F&B brand capable of catalyzing this feeling could improve its market share considerably.

Food & Beverage sustainability examples

From small companies to big fish, a shift toward sustainability is starting to be evident within the F&B market.

Take Carlsberg, for example. The company is aiming for a zero-carbon footprint by 2030 and intends to move its brewing over to using all renewable energy. MillerCoors is doing the same, concentrating on its water use, to make sure to reduce waste.

When it comes to the so-called sustainable packaging, the big enemy is obviously plastic. Simon Lowden, president of global foods at Purchase, explained that “the vilification of plastic bottles represents an opportunity for beverage brands to elevate the simple aluminum can.” The time for aluminum to shine has come, and a wide range of companies are getting on board.

On the aluminum side, we find companies like the Los Angeles-based RightWater, that launched its self-titled line of canned natural spring water. Or, going bigger, we can point to PepsiCo and its commitment to roll out water packaged in - hopefully, recycled - aluminum, dropping plastic for good.

The list could be much longer, but suffices to say that the Food & Beverage sustainability movement, be it for profit or for ethics, is growing bigger and bigger. The customer's choices are ratifying a need and brands will have to follow suit.

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