Sustainability in the Australian food industry

30th June 2016

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Sustainability has been an increasingly popular buzzword across a variety of industries. It encompasses a lot of things. From ethical questions surrounding labour practises and supply chain transparency to a deeper understanding of where in the world our food is coming from to questions regarding production emissions and environmental policies.

The bottom line is that consumers are becoming more aware of what goes into the production of goods and are demanding to know more. And companies are taking notice. According to an international study by McKinsey & Company, 57 percent of companies across the globe have woven sustainability into their strategic planning.

The food industry has been in a particularly bright spotlight as of late, especially following the in-depth AP investigative piece on the conditions of labourers in the Southeast Asian fishing industry. The reporting spanned over 18 months, and the journalists traced the unethical fish products back to a variety of global grocers. The report spurred calls for more transparency from food brands and better labelling practises globally.

What consumers want

In Australia, there have been some improvements with food industry sustainability and quality practises - such as the newest bout of government labelling regulation. However, according to the Oceans campaigner at Greenpeace Australia Pacific Nathaniel Pelle, Australian consumers have largely been let down by grocers and their food suppliers.

"It's only in the [past] 12 months or so that supermarkets have started to follow the example set by European supermarkets," explained Pelle to the Sydney Morning Herald. "Coles in particular has been really active in sourcing more responsibly-fished seafood, but they also started from a point well behind what consumers in Europe and the UK can expect."

When it comes to sustainability consumers are willing to pay the price. A Nielsen survey found that over half of global participants claimed they would spend extra money for goods from companies that have an expressed commitment to positive social and environmental impacts. Leading the charge was the Asia-Pacific with 64 per cent of respondents making this claim.

Where it all starts

The path to sustainability begins with a better approach to inventory management. Australian food suppliers will be expected to meet global standards from supply chain partners and international retailers.

This will likely involve improved labelling practises as well as more comprehensive reporting. For food manufacturing leaders that are serious about taking steps toward sustainability, business management software can make the process a bit easier.

Advanced Business Manager's manufacturing module provides a simple but effective approach to more flexible production runs, better inventory management and in-depth reporting. To learn more schedule a demo today!