Sustainably Delicious: 8 Ways To Run An Eco-Friendly Food Business
As we face mounting pressure to reduce our environmental footprints, the food service industry will take center stage in sustainably feeding our communities. Running an eco-friendly food business can have many benefits for profit, planet, and plate.
The food and beverage industry is embracing greener measures to show that feeding consumers don’t have to cost the earth. Instead, a triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit is possible through a few conscious shifts towards earth-friendly business strategies.
What Does It Mean To Be An Environmentally Friendly Food Business?
A study by consulting firm Deloitte reveals that more consumers are proactive in adopting a more sustainable lifestyle. This means choosing brands with ethical or environmentally sustainable practices and values or no longer purchasing certain products because they are concerned about the brand’s ethical or sustainability practices or values. 2.
Sustainability in the food sector refers to practices that minimize the business’ impact on the planet. Solutions like sustainable sourcing, monitoring food waste, eco-friendly packaging, and digital administration strategies can significantly lighten your food business’s carbon footprint.
Adding sustainability into your day-to-day business is not only responsible but also gives customers a window into your value system and an opportunity to contribute to these positive efforts.
The Benefits of Sustainable Food Business Practices
Sustainable is more than just a token social media post; it is long-term leadership that will impact current and future generations of diners.
Finally, all food businesses, whether you are a five-star dining experience or the neighborhood’s hottest food, need to stay profitable in their pursuit of doing better for the planet. The good news is that leading in sustainable practices will give you the edge over the competition, showing you’re putting the planet before the plate.
Demonstrating a priority for sustainable food business practices brings various benefits to your business. Adopting a sustainable strategy can also be a worthwhile investment for your business.
1. Brand loyalty.
When your company’s values align with people, they will likely be repeat customers. People like to feel like their money contributed to a positive difference in the world and actively seek ways they can be impactful with purchases. It also increases the chance that they’ll post about their good deed and, in doing so, will spread the word and create a powerful organic marketing campaign.
2. It’s Good For Business
With an increased gain in your customer base, you’ll organically find your profits growing. In addition, many sustainable practices, such as minimizing food waste, can go a long way to helping the bottom line.
4. Employee Morale
In the same way, customers want to know their dollars are helping a greater cause every time they purchase from a restaurant or food app; employees want to know their clock serves a bigger purpose. Demonstrating a central mission to feed the people and protect the planet can boost employee morale, increase motivation, and keep them around for longer as they feel they are part of a purposeful organization.
5. Establish Yourself As a Leader
No matter how small, your sustainable practices can serve as an example of what is possible. You are creating the bar for your competitors.
6. Improve The Quality Of Your Menu
Sustainable food sourcing – using organic, local, and seasonal ingredients – can lead to a more high-quality menu. Quality, showing your commitment to other local businesses, and clean ingredients will naturally lead to more business.
Ten Ways To Green Up Your Food Business
Implementing sustainability strategies may be easier than you think. You don’t have to tackle them all at once. If you are a food startup, consider implementing these practices out of the gate to reduce time-consuming and costly transitions. Lastly, remember that change takes time, and communicating your progress via marketing can help customers understand the bigger picture.
All food businesses can adopt sustainable strategies. Start where you are, do what you can. Just start. Begin by building your knowledge about more sustainably ingredient options, one ingredient at a time.
Look Local To Reduce Mileage
Choosing local suppliers will naturally lead to lowering part of your carbon footprint. That’s right; you are responsible for your supplier’s gas mileage and the impact that has on the environment. Minimizing the carbon trail of your business means sourcing ingredients, packaging, and marketing materials, as locally as possible.
Sourcing is key to reducing your impact on the environment as a business. Ask questions, do your research, and demand better from your vendors. Using food ingredients that are local, organic, fair trade, or produced using sustainable farming practices all help to reduce your overall impact.
Packaging – especially in food APPs, food trucks, and takeaway-centered business models is a key place to analyze your carbon footprint. Eco-friendly packaging is often recyclable, compostable, lighter-weight, reusable, and ideally compostable or biodegradable. Using less packaging is even more critical to reducing landfill waste.
If your food business relies on the packaging, compostable is the way to go. It is often made from renewable plant-based materials like corn, wheat, fiber, and sugarcane and uses fewer resources, produces less pollution in production, and won’t hang around in landfills for thousands of years like plastic.
Get Plants On The Menu
Last year, a study found that 48% of consumers seek “plant-based” foods and 70% of those have tried plant-based meat alternatives. You don’t have to adopt a fully vegan or vegetarian menu to be a plant-forward food business. You only need to offer options. Doing so may even have a surprising impact on your profits as more people are shifting their lifestyle to include a “Meat Free Monday” or just healthier eating habits. It doesn’t have to be a salad. Plenty of plant-based beef, chicken, and seafood is available to supply the commercial food industry with mouth-watering alternatives to carbon-intensive animal-based protein.
Reduce Food Waste
The energy and natural resources that go into growing the food are wasted if they don’t serve a purpose. Food waste also breaks down in landfills to create greenhouse gasses that are exacerbating climate change.
In the United States, roughly 133 billion pounds of food is wasted annually. This contributes to a growing carbon footprint where the food industry is responsible for 84% of food waste ending up in landfills. So what can we do as a food business to mitigate food waste? Keep a close eye on stock, educate staff, and compost if possible (you can also donate food waste to a local farm).
It’s time to join the digital revolution that is happening in the food industry. From paperless receipts to APPs that track inventory, we can digitize operations and save reams of paper, petroleum-based ink, and appliance energy by moving systems into a cloud. Digital record-keeping, QR code menus, and delivering receipts by email all help to cut down on office supply impact.
Ideally, you’ll first work on minimizing overall waste before recycling comes into play. However, it’s better to do things imperfectly than hold out for perfection. The first step in sustainability is making it easy and accessible for you and your customers. You can do this by providing the proper recycling bins for tin, glass, plastic, or cardboard and partnering with your local waste management company to see that it may live another day and reduce waste. Don’t forget to create educational signage to remind people how to recycle and why it is important.
Publicize your efforts.
Messaging is a big part of reaping the payoffs of your sustainability efforts. Make sure that all stakeholders, customers, employees, and the public know the sustainability efforts you are working hard to implement.
Don’t be humble; your actions may go a long way in inspiring others in the food community. Be sure to share updates, statistics, progress, and initiatives via marketing channels.
When you are well on your way, consider joining sustainable food business alliances that will vet your efforts and bring validity to your efforts.
Do Better When You Know Better
Lastly, adopting sustainability is a transformational process that may take time. Even the greenest food business can always do better as new innovations make being a green business easier. As you find more environmentally friendly options, research, train your staff, and implement them. Include your customers and future customers on your journey to put the planet over plate and acknowledge where you may fall short but are trying to improve.
We aren’t robots; we are real people trying to make the earth better for each other! Progress isn’t always linear, small efforts go a long way, and we can continually improve our sustainable strategies.