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Carbon reduction strategies for Food & Drink manufacturers

21 February 2024

Carbon reduction strategies

Getting started with carbon reduction

In an age of growing environmental concerns, businesses in various sectors are under heightened scrutiny for their carbon footprints and emissions data. Food and beverage manufacturers are especially affected, holding significant responsibility in the global supply chain and facing increasing pressure to embrace eco-friendly practices

This article aims to help food and beverage manufacturers navigate the complexities of mapping and reducing carbon footprints. 

Giving tips on handling supply chain questions, creating effective carbon reduction plans, and assessing their impact on retaining upstream and downstream suppliers and customers. 

Understanding the Scope: Carbon Footprint in the Food and Drink Industry

Before delving into strategies for mapping and reducing carbon footprints, it's essential to understand the scope of the issue. According to a report by the World Resources Institute, the food and drink industry is responsible for nearly 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions [1]. This alarming statistic underscores the urgency for manufacturers to take decisive action in mitigating their environmental impact.

Addressing Inquiries from the Supply Chain 

Supply chain partners and customers are increasingly seeking transparency regarding the environmental practices of their suppliers. According to a survey conducted by The Carbon Trust, 66% of the consumers surveyed feel more positive about companies that can demonstrate they are making efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of their products [2]. To address inquiries effectively, food and drink manufacturers should consider adopting third-party certifications, such as the Carbon Trust Standard or ISO 14001, which provide credibility and assurance regarding carbon reduction efforts [3]. 

Creating a Comprehensive Carbon Reduction Plan 

A robust carbon reduction plan is the cornerstone of any sustainable business strategy. Manufacturers should conduct a comprehensive lifecycle analysis to identify areas with the highest carbon impact, allowing for targeted efforts. 

Additionally, investing in energy-efficient technologies and renewable energy sources can play a pivotal role in reducing emissions. Research from McKinsey & Company reveals that companies adopting energy-efficient practices can experience a 10-20% reduction in energy costs and a substantial decrease in carbon emissions [4]. 

Potential Impact on Customer Retention 

As consumers become more environmentally conscious, the impact of a company's carbon footprint on customer retention cannot be overstated. A study by Nielsen found that 73% of consumers are willing to change their consumption habits to reduce their environmental impact [5]. By showcasing a commitment to sustainability through a comprehensive carbon reduction plan, food and drink manufacturers can not only attract environmentally conscious customers but also build brand loyalty. 

How can manufacturers begin this journey?

The first step to consider is mapping the current emissions from your operations. It’s vital to a carbon reduction journey to first scope out where you are starting from. Many businesses already have a good idea of their Scope 1 and 2 emissions, but Scope 3, including supply chain engagement, full lifecycle emissions and wider ranging emissions from the likes of transport, capital goods, and import and export, can be particularly complex. 

Engaging with carbon specialist consultancies allows manufacturers to begin this journey under expert guidance, taking it step by step in manageable segments. Carbon accounting software can clearly show and report your progress to your Net Zero goals.  When accurate data from your supply chain is unavailable, your consultant can utilise government-approved conversion factors. These factors help estimate emissions based on purchasing information, quantity, activity type, and more. 

The important thing in this time of additional pressure is taking the first step. 

In conclusion, navigating the green maze of carbon footprints is not just an environmental responsibility, but a strategic, business critical process for food and drink manufacturers. By addressing inquiries from the supply chain, creating a comprehensive carbon reduction plan, and showcasing commitment to sustainability, manufacturers can not only meet the growing demands for environmental responsibility but also attract new business relationships, enable sustainable business growth and improve brand perception. 


[1] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/329453910_World_Resources_Report_Creating_a_Sustainable_Food_Future  

[2] https://www.carbontrust.com/news-and-insights/news/research-reveals-consumer-demand-for-climate-change-labelling

[3] https://www.iso.org/standards/popular/iso-14000-family  

[4] https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/dotcom/client_service/epng/pdfs/unlocking%20energy%20efficiency/us_energy_efficiency_exc_summary.ashx 

[5] https://www.nielsen.com/insights/2018/what-sustainability-means-today/  

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