Sustainable Supply: Circular, climate friendly, consciously sourced...

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08 Nov 2017 --- The 2017 UN Climate Conference has kicked off in Bonn this week, once again bringing together leaders of national governments, NGOs and civil society to discuss the need to bolster climate action to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and combat such pressing matters as sustainability and climatic loss and damage. The food and beverage industry, too, has seen environmental issues and sustainability become fixed concerns, with the notion of a circular economy, in particular, starting to capture the attention. 

There is growing marketing around sourcing and a rethinking of what can be deemed as food waste. Active campaigns are informing consumers about all aspects of the supply chain. A greater awareness of sourcing is leading manufacturers to look back to their entire supply chain and be fairer in terms of what they offer.

FoodIngredientsFirst has taken a look at some of the most recent projects and efforts that food & beverage ingredient suppliers have embarked upon to up their sustainability credentials and do their part to protect the environment and reduce waste.

The supplier view
The list of suppliers keen to showcase their sustainability credentials is extensive. Jochen Heininger, Wild Flavors & Specialty Ingredients’ Vice President of Product Management, EMEAI at ADM, believes that successfully feeding the world while minimizing our impact on the planet is essential to our goal of setting the competitive standard in the agribusiness and food ingredient industries. 

“WFSI has responded to the international trend towards sustainably manufactured products. For example, it works hand in hand with the NGO Rainforest Alliance. The Rainforest Alliance seal of approval confirms that the manufacturer practiced environmentally friendly resource management and social responsibility. These approved raw materials are used in a wide range of WFSI’s juice drink and nectar concepts,” he notes.

Vince Martin, Business Development, Kalsec Europe, says: “The circular economy is at the center of our drive to be sustainable. From agricultural practices to extraction processes, we ask ourselves about how we can be more sustainable and what can we improve. There is a balance to be struck between cost optimization and taking risks with materials of questionable provenance.”

Martin notes that despite the extra costs and effort, suppliers should invest to make materials safe and to check and eliminate known contaminant risks.

“There is a premium to be earned with guaranteed quality, but it requires investment in relationships, analytical techniques and trace materials testing to ensure remaining clear of contamination or adulteration. All industry participants must invest in the sustainability of the food chain to support life on a global scale,” Martin states.

Elodie Parre, CSR Manager at Tereos, notes: “As ingredients suppliers, our role is to support our clients in their efforts to achieve their sustainable consumption goals. For example, our research and development teams accompany clients with clear and adapted advice in helping them to improve the nutrition profile of their products, in accordance with their consumers’ expectations. Our raw materials are rare and precious, so we monitor the entire process from the field to the consumer: 99 percent of Tereos raw materials are recovered through a circular economy logic.”

“Nothing is wasted, everything is processed,” says Parre. “For example, our sugar cane processing factories in Brazil, Mozambique and Reunion are energy self-sufficient during the crop processing. Green electricity is produced from bagasse, the fibrous residue from crushed sugar cane. It is burnt in high-yield boilers and provides electricity for our facilities. Excess electricity can also be fed into the public network. In Brazil, Tereos supplies a public network with enough electricity to power a city of 1.3 million inhabitants.”

Fi Europe shortlist
At this year’s Fi Europe, to be held 28 to 30 November in Frankfurt, one of two companies that have been shortlisted will be given the Sustainability Champion Award. The award goes to an organization or company with a measurable strategy that champions environmental or social sustainability in the F&B industry.

The first approach is IOI Loders Croklaan’s strategy to deliver a traceable, transparent and sustainable palm oil supply chain. This approach is intended to work in conjunction with its Sustainable Palm Oil Policy and third-party supplier annex, which aims to set a new bar for best practice in the sector and place traceability front and center of the company’s strategy for supply chain transformation. “First, we understand the origins of our oil, then we assess for risk, and then we use our market leverage to drive sustainable practices on the ground. We have achieved 100 percent traceability to mill level and are now working to achieve full traceability to plantation,” the company reports.

The second shortlisted company is FoodSolutionsTeam, which has introduced KaroPRO, a functional, natural and sustainable carrot fiber ingredient. Derived from side streams of vegetable juice production, KaroPRO is produced using innovative drying and milling technologies. The development of KaroPRO reduces food waste and at the same time offers a highly functional ingredient with a positive declaration and beneficial nutritional values. FoodSolutionsTeam notes that it brings lost good food back onto the plate. 

Click to EnlargeCO2 emissions remain key aspect
Palsgaard has invested significantly into CO2-neutral factories, where it produces sustainable emulsifiers from 100 percent certified sustainable segregated palm oil. Additionally, the company has invested heavily “in developing highly efficient emulsifiers and emulsifier/stabilizer systems that help you improve the sustainability of your products – and your production processes – by improving shelf-life, reducing calorie content, improving raw material yield and by reducing energy usage,” thereby addressing concerns such as wastage. 

Just recently, the company was awarded the most prestigious CSR award in Denmark, the FSR Danish Auditor’s CSR Award, for the third time. Notably, the jury highlighted the company’s contribution to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, as well as its efforts to foster an open discussion of the issues around palm oil supply and the use of certified, sustainable palm oil.

Also targeting a reduction in its CO2 emissions is Emmi, Switzerland’s largest milk processor. Emmi has committed to reducing its CO2 emissions by 25 percent by 2020 and as an initial measure, the company converted all its Swiss sites to sustainable power at the start of 2017. Emmi is now taking another major step by converting all its European sites to 100 percent hydropower, thereby reducing its CO2 emissions by a further 17,500 tons per year. Emmi’s commitment to sustainability can be found in the new online sustainability report, together with a detailed G4-GRI Content Index. For the first time, this report covers the activities of the entire Emmi Group. 

Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Gerold Schatt, Head of Sustainability Emmi Group, says: “Sustainability is a strategic topic for Emmi. We are convinced that sustainability is a promising possibility for differentiation, especially for our products from Switzerland, where we have a high standard in important topics such as environmental protection and animal welfare.”

“Since the beginning of 2016, there has been a department for sustainability, which takes care of the strategy and coordination. Since 2016 we have also had an official partnership with WWF Switzerland,” explains Schatt. “Last autumn, we communicated our sustainability goals, one for each focus area (reducing greenhouse gas emissions, sustainable milk, waste reduction and employee development).”

Large companies make large efforts
Some other major manufacturers are also upping the sustainability ante. At the beginning of November, Nestlé set a goal to source only eggs from cage-free hens for all its food products globally by 2025. This includes all shell eggs and egg products directly sourced as ingredients, by Nestlé. In Europe and the US, Nestlé will make the transition by the end of 2020. For the rest of the Americas, the Middle East, Africa and Oceania it will happen by 2025, with the move in Asia to be completed in the same transition period as conditions allow.

The Kraft Heinz Company, meanwhile, has expanded its current animal welfare commitments to include higher standards for treatment of broiler chickens in its US supply chain. Kraft Heinz will work with its suppliers and the industry at large to achieve the following by 2024: Source 100 percent of chickens via breeds approved by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) or Global Animal Partnership (GAP) for measurably improved welfare and quality of life; Provide birds with more space to perform natural behaviors, including a stocking density no greater than six pounds per square foot; Provide birds with better environments, including litter, lighting and other enrichments that align with GAP's environmental standards; Implement a multi-step, controlled-atmosphere processing system.

Setting and reaching sustainability goals can be a challenging feat for companies, but with the modern-day consumer becoming more demanding and conscious about the sourcing of ingredients as well as the implications of their consumption, a well-crafted policy plan with regard to issues such as CO2 emissions and ingredient sourcing has become nothing short of a must.

By Lucy Gunn

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