Future Summit 23: Key Takeaways

On Tuesday, May 23, 2023, the Bread & Jam Future Summit powered by GS1 UK provided attendees with clear answers and actionable points to drive progress towards sustainability and purpose-driven goals. A notable statistic revealed that 63% of people in the food and drink industry delay climate action due to a lack of skills and knowledge.

The summit aimed to address this issue and empower businesses to take meaningful action.

The ENSO team has summarised our key takeaways from the event, so let’s get started!

The Importance of a Sustainability Strategy for Your Business

There was a unanimous agreement at the Future Summit that having a sustainability strategy in place is increasingly crucial for businesses. While the industry focuses on carbon neutrality, it was emphasised that sustainability efforts should encompass a broader perspective. Businesses should assess their impacts across various areas, including their supply chain, packaging, and waste management. 

Carbon reduction tactics, such as substituting high-carbon ingredients with lower-carbon alternatives and collaborating with supply chain partners to reduce emission were suggested. However, starting with actions within one’s control was strongly encouraged.

Greenwashing and the Need for Transparency

A pressing issue discussed at the summit was greenwashing and the urgent need for transparency in business practices. Greenwashing is when a business, whether intentional or not, misleads its consumers with unsubstantiated claims about its environmentally friendly products, credentials or activities. Studies, such as one conducted by Kantar, revealed that a significant portion of consumers view eco-claims as mere marketing tactics. Therefore, businesses must embrace sustainability not just for promotional purposes but because it is the right thing to do.

To combat greenwashing and demonstrate sincerity, companies need to make public declarations about their commitment to sustainability. This will show consumers and stakeholders that they take the issue seriously. Employing certifications when discussing sustainability initiatives can further enhance a company’s credibility. Instead of relying on unverified claims, your business should focus on tangible actions backed by evidence.

Recognising the importance of accountability, the EU Parliament has recently approved a negotiating mandate to ban the use of general environmental claims without detailed evidence. Furthermore, environmental claims based solely on carbon offsetting schemes will also be prohibited. By incorporating sustainability practices early on, communicating honest efforts backed by evidence, and building trust through transparency, businesses can craft a compelling narrative and foster consumer trust.

Embracing Unique Selling Points (USPs) and Understanding Brand Value

According to Kantar’s study, sustainable brands face three key challenges: price, perception, and market saturation. To build a successful brand, it is essential to understand and communicate your brand’s value proposition. Sustainable practices alone may not be the sole reason for consumers to make a purchase. Purpose-led brands have a significant opportunity, but to capitalise on it, they must excel in their offerings and be exceptional at what they do. By combining a remarkable product with a compelling story, brands can forge strong connections with consumers.

It is worth noting that the market for sustainable practices presents an approximately £57 billion opportunity, as indicated by Kantar’s study. A considerable 45% of consumers expressed a desire to purchase products with sustainable packaging. Therefore, it is essential to communicate and share your commitment to sustainability, as it significantly influences purchasing decisions.

Sharing Data with Large Retailers

In the coming years, sharing data with large retailers will become increasingly important, particularly for reporting on scope three emissions. As an example, in the UK, Co-Op have committed to be Net Zero by 2040 across their entire business. As explained at the Future Summit, Co-Op will continue to work-with and support their suppliers who are willing to adapt to climate change and align with their net zero ambitions.

The introduction of the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive aims to mainstream and standardise sustainability reporting, assisting businesses in reducing their negative environmental and social impacts.

Under this directive, large companies are required to report on their value chain, which may involve requesting information and data from other businesses. To make providing this information easier, SMEs should start tracking their sustainability efforts.

Read our blog to learn more about the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive and what it might mean for your business.

Keep it simple

The modern consumer is time-constrained and lacks the luxury of thoroughly researching every company they purchase from. They don’t have the bandwidth to sift through extensive sustainability reports or decipher complicated recycling instructions. 

Therefore, it is crucial for brands to simplify and streamline information delivery, making it effortless for consumers to access and comprehend. You can achieve this through initiatives, including:

  • Creative packaging design
  • Clear and concise statements on company websites
  • Readily accessible information
  • All claims are backed by verifiable evidence

By adopting these practices, brands can effectively cater to the needs of time-pressed consumers and facilitate informed decision-making.