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Sustainability

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Note from the editor

As studies show that shoppers care about sustainability now more than ever, food and beverage companies are pledging to make their portfolios more eco-friendly. Even as the pandemic shifts consumer demand, nearly half surveyed say the coronavirus outbreaks have made them even more concerned about the environment.

While promises are made and demand increases, reports have found that many CPG companies haven't shown significant progress on their sustainability goals. But there have been some developments. Big Food companies such as General Mills and Hormel Foods have turned to regenerative agriculture, while companies like Anheuser-Busch and McCormick are making their ingredients more sustainable.

Packaging is another area companies are working to make more green because it is one of the largest causes of waste in the United States. Designing high-quality sustainable packaging that keeps products fresh, holds liquids and endures temperature changes has been challenging for manufacturers, but companies are beginning to put resources toward that. From a wine bottle made from 94% recycled paper to a more sustainable meat package, smaller companies are developing prototypes and bigger firms like Nestlé are investing billions of dollars in the space. 

Food waste is another problem for the industry, but one with a potentially lucrative solution. According to a study from Future Market Insights, food waste was worth $46.7 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow 5% during the next decade as more businesses use upcycled ingredients and food waste byproducts in a variety of foods and beverages.

This report details multiple aspects of the growing and evolving sustainability space: 

  • Consumer sentiment about sustainability amid the pandemic
  • The lack of significant progress by CPG companies on sustainability goals
  • Upcycling: A Big Food problem with a startup solution?
  • Big Food turns to regenerative agriculture to meet sustainability goals
  • How Anheuser-Busch cultivates its ingredients amid a changing climate
  • Why McCormick is setting 'audacious' sustainability goals
  • Why reusable food packaging has a promising future
  • A look at how sustainable the food packaging industry is

This trendline captures just a few of the many issues and moving pieces impacting sustainability in the food and beverage space today. We hope you enjoy this deep dive into the current trends.

Lillianna Byington Reporter

Consumers still care about sustainability amid pandemic, report finds

Nearly half of consumers surveyed say the outbreak has made them more concerned about the environment, according to consulting firm Kearney.

CPG companies haven't shown significant progress on sustainability goals, report claims

Greenpeace challenged 50 companies in early 2019 to "demonstrate meaningful effort" to eradicate deforestation from their supply chain but none have followed through.

Upcycling: A Big Food problem with a startup solution?

Food waste is worth $46.7 billion and is expected to grow 5% during the next decade, providing companies with a lucrative way to make money and cater to consumers who value sustainability.

Big Food turns to regenerative agriculture to meet sustainability goals

Companies such as General Mills and Hormel Foods are embracing the practice to help their businesses and respond to consumers who consider environmental stewardship in their buying habits.

Farm to pint: How Anheuser-Busch cultivates its ingredients amid a changing climate and consumer

In addition to stringent farming protocols, the company is investing millions to find the next rice, hops and barley varieties that can be grown using less water or are more resilient to diseases.

Why McCormick is setting 'audacious' sustainability goals

By 2025, the spice company plans to reduce its emissions, solid waste and carbon footprint while sustainably sourcing its top five ingredients.

How sustainable is the food packaging industry?

More consumers are seeking products that are completely eco-friendly, but there are still many barriers on the design and manufacturing side.

Why reusable food packaging has a promising future

Consumers are looking for both convenience and sustainability, and companies are responding with containers, bottles and bags designed for many uses.