How to Be a Fresh and Sustainable Food Brand

Ripe carrots inside white picking sack

COP26 has just come to an end in Glasgow. The purpose of the annual conference was to shine a global spotlight on climate change, emergency actions and evoke thoughts in us all on how we can play our role in combatting global warming. 

Hopefully, the gathering has inspired business owners in all industries to discover ways to adapt their processes and become more planet-friendly.

One sector that was overlooked at COP26 was the food industry, despite having a long journey to becoming environmentally friendly. There are improvements to be made at every step of the supply chain to help the country reduce its environmental impact and reach its target of Net Zero emissions by 2030.

But for today, let’s look a bit closer to home. Minor tweaks can make the biggest impact. Let’s explore some changes your business can make, big and small, to become a more fresh and sustainable food brand.

How to become a sustainable brand

While vegan meals are an excellent means of lowering carbon footprint and being eco-friendly, sustainability is much more than that.

To be truly sustainable, a food company must scrutinise both its social and environmental responsibilities, considering policies and practices that affect communities, employees and customers, as well as the planet. Without exploring all justice issues, a business won’t be entirely sustainable.

Environmental factors to consider:

Looking after our planet will be at the heart of your journey to become a sustainable food business; this is where you will consider your environmental impact and factors.

Here are some steps you can take to make that mission easier:

Buy produce from local farms and independent suppliers

The first benefit of partnering with local farms and independent suppliers is, of course, supporting family-run businesses and pumping money back into the local community. 

The second plus is that fresh produce from smaller, independent suppliers and family farms tends to be of much higher quality. They are more conscious of holistic agriculture, growing organic fruits and vegetables and even using natural pest control instead of toxic pesticides and fertilisers. 

So, next time you’re ready to stock up your commercial kitchen, purchase locally sourced produce, especially fresh goods and meats.

…Or, grow your ingredients if possible

Many establishments in the food and beverage industry, such as restaurants, food delivery boxes and even cocktail bars, have started to grow their ingredients. Having a garden kitchen brings an exciting challenge to the team, gives a new appreciation for produce, and of course, it’s an incredible way for a food business to lower its carbon footprint.

Use eco-friendly packaging & reduce packaging waste

It’s no secret that one of the planet’s most devastating issues is waste. Landfill sites are out of control, roughly 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans every year, and experts estimate that this will triple by 2040. 

Any sustainable business must handle their waste responsibly, all of it. The easiest way to control this is firstly using sustainable packaging. All food delivery packaging should be compostable or fully recyclable materials, such as recyclable plastic, recycled paper, bamboo cutlery etc. Having said that, if you can eradicate plastic from your kitchen to become fully plastic-free, you’re winning on the packaging front!

Be mindful of this when buying produce, ingredients, equipment or cleaning products for your dark kitchen. Recycle all glass, cardboard and plastic that comes through your doors, and send any other packaging back to your supplier to reuse. Choose your suppliers wisely and refrain from businesses using styrofoam or excessive plastic for deliveries. 

To be an industry leader in sustainability, you must recycle, reuse or compost all waste materials, food waste and residues from your food delivery kitchen.

Cook with seasonal produce

Keeping a seasonal menu is a simple way to make your restaurant more planet-friendly. Cooking with produce that’s in high season ensures that you don’t have to consider lengthy imports for fresh ingredients, and you can find higher-quality produce much closer to home. 

You should sustainably source meats, fruit and vegetables and even proteins such as seafood and cheese. If you can’t find a sustainable source, temporarily eliminate these ingredients from your menu until you can.

A seasonally changing menu is inspirational for chefs and spurs their creativity. It is also a scrumptious change for your customers, and most importantly, aids your sustainable mission!

Conserve water at every opportunity

Water covers 71% of the earth leading to the common misconception that we have enough water to get us by for millions of years – why do we need to be stingy?! Well, only 3% of Earth’s water is drinkable, and the majority of this minuscule percentage is frozen in our glaciers, so we don’t have water to waste. 

If you run a food business that relies on consistent water usage throughout the day, in agriculture, for example, there are a few options to reduce wastage. If you use flood irrigation with sprinklers, switching to drip irrigation can dramatically decrease your water usage. A high number of businesses are also looking to implement the wastewater reuse technique.

Businesses should review all water usage, even dishwashing, and implement procedures that are less water-intensive. Doing so will save overall water usage and potentially money.

Sustainable food distribution

Distribution is a huge concern for an eco-friendly supply chain. 

Freight ships and HGV’s transport most of the world’s goods both locally and globally. Each vehicle generates greenhouse gases and CO2, so how can we tackle this?

As we mentioned before, cooking what is in season and shopping locally – or as close to home as possible – will lessen the distance the food needs to travel and diminish emissions from global importing. 

Another opportunity for a cleaner distribution system is to switch to trucks and vehicles that use greener fuel. Many newer vehicles now use electricity or biofuel, and local food delivery-only restaurants can deliver using bicycles. 

Be conscious of animal welfare and farming conditions

So, it’s known that switching to a plant-based diet is one of the most effective things we can do as individuals for combatting climate change. The operations of food businesses and manufacturers are reflective of this, including more vegan options on menus, the production of meat alternatives has increased tenfold, and the future of takeaways looks dramatically different in 2030 compared to 2021.

If you have animal products and animal by-products in your supply chain, you should do so sustainably. Firstly, think about reducing the number of animal food products you use and ensure they are treated humanely. Choose farmers who guarantee all animals are free of growth hormones, are certified organic, cage-free, free-range and antibiotic-free.

Social factors to consider:

A planet-kind business is not only environmentally-conscious but ethical, too. You must hold your moral standards high and take care of the people who work with, for and around you. 

Here are a handful of ways to make your food establishment ethical:

Support healthy working conditions

Any workers contributing to your supply chain should have safe and healthy working conditions and be paid a fair wage. If overseas chocolate, tea, coffee or olive oil are a primary ingredient in any of your products, you should source them from Fairtrade certified suppliers. The Fairtrade certification ensures workers in the production line receive a fair wage and their employers respect their welfare. 

Customer satisfaction should be at the heart of your brand

Whether you operate within the food industry or otherwise, customer satisfaction should always be the core of your brand. After all, without your customers, how would your business run?

Staff should always deliver an exceptional experience to customers. From the healthy food they eat, the hospitality they receive and going above and beyond for their needs, customer satisfaction should be your main priority.

On top of this, your staff should always be ready to express your business vision to your customers and be willing to offer up information on sourcing ingredients sustainably and your broader climate action mission.

Serve the local community 

Ethics, morals and charity work all go hand-in-hand, and it’s a core element of running a business that cares. Whether it’s fundraising for a charity or improvements at the local park, hosting a class to teach children some cooking skills or offering your space for charity use, there are many ways to get involved and extend your mission to the community. 

Are you ready to celebrate Earth day all year long?

If you’re starting a sustainable food brand, or you are already established, our London commercial kitchens, catering kitchens and cold storage to rent are waiting for you. Book a viewing at any of our London kitchen locations, or get in touch to see how our spaces can help your planet-friendly brand take-off!

by Dephna

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