In recent years, media coverage of climate change has had a significant impact on public buying behaviours and, in turn, businesses’ priorities when it comes to sourcing eco-friendly alternatives.
A lot of food businesses are at the heart of the shift towards greener packaging solutions and sustainable resources, but how can you do your part without risking lower profits?
Sustainability actually brings in customers
It’s often the case that the cheapest option is the least eco-friendly, but whilst it may seem that you’re saving money by choosing these low-cost options, you may be harming your reputation with clients and customers who are becoming more environmentally conscious.
“Businesses in both the B2B & B2C sectors are finding their staff and customers are seeking greener suppliers for environmentally sustainable products,” says Trevor Heathcote, Director at Countrystyle Recycling “previously companies weren’t as selective when arranging a supply chain and tended to select suppliers based on value and convenience. However, more recently heavier scrutiny has been placed on finding ‘greener’ alternatives and emphasis on Corporate Social Responsibilities.”
Make eco-friendliness a USP
If you make the shift into using more sustainable and environmentally friendly products, then it’s definitely worth shouting about. This kind of USP is hugely popular with customers and there may even be funding available for certain things through your local council, so it’s worth looking into. If you can be one of the pioneers of eco-friendliness in your sector, it will help you to stand out from your competitors, and you’ll feel great for doing your bit to help the environment too.
As veganism is reaching an all-time high, partly due to people’s increased environmental concerns, it’s worth considering vegan and cruelty-free options as well, as there’s a large customer base who will rally behind to support you in your choice to seek out these kinds of alternatives.
Where do you start?
There are already a lot of eco-friendly products available for food businesses, including Vegware for natural packaging solutions, and Bio-D for environmentally-friendly, vegan, and cruelty-free food-safe cleaning products. These products tend not to cost too much more than their less ethical counterparts, so they’re a great first step for any food business looking to decrease their carbon footprint.
It may also be worth considering changing your menu periodically to feature seasonal produce that will not only be easier to get hold of, but also will likely be cheaper than trying to source the same items all year round. This also brings the advantage of helping to grow your business by appealing to returning customers who would like to support you but who are also keen to try something new.
Keep it local
One of the least sustainable ways to operate your food business is to bring in products from far away. Transporting produce from one location to another can have an enormous environmental impact from vehicles burning fuel over long distances. If you can get any of your produce more locally, you should.
Try linking up with other local food suppliers and farms to get your products direct from the source. You’ll not only cut out the middle man, but you’ll likely save on transport and delivery costs too, meaning you should be able to get the same product for less money and with less environmental impact.
Building relationships with other local businesses will also help cement your place as part of the community, bringing more opportunities for cross-promotional activity to advertise your company to a wider range of potential customers in the area.
“When you buy from local farms, you’re more likely to get organic food products and products made without tons of artificial substances and chemicals than you would if you were to buy from large distributors,” says Annie Pilon at Small Business Trends “this often means that the food is more natural and healthy, allowing you to easily appeal to the growing base of health-conscious consumers”.
Making the shift towards using more sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives for your food business doesn’t need to be a daunting task, and it’s certainly not going to happen overnight. Make changes gradually by replacing cleaning products or packaging items with greener versions as you run out.
Do your research to make sure you’re sourcing the best option for your needs, and don’t be afraid to try a few different options if the first one isn’t what you’re looking for. Once you’ve started swapping things out, ensure you let people know what you’re doing by posting on your website and social media channels, and you may be surprised by the support and advice you receive to help your business grow in new and exciting directions.
About the Author
Kafoodle guest blogger Sophie Bishop is a Brighton-based health practitioner, passionate about sustainability and the health and wellbeing sector.
Check out what Sophie has been up to over on Twitter: @SophBishJourno