By Dan Bolton
Consumer insistence on sustainable practices is driving business to do better.
Curbing waste and protecting the environment are top-of-mind in surveys that indicate consumers feel that “no one” is adequately dealing with these challenges.
In its annual State of Sustainability report the Natural Marketing Institute found “consumers are more interested than ever in aligning their personal values with the brands they buy, raising the bar for companies to clearly define and articulate their values. If consumers are aware that companies are mindful of their impact on society and the environment, it positively impacts their trial and repeat purchasing behavior along with price insensitivity.”
It is reassuring to see the coffee and tea industry accept the fact that sustainability has moved from a fad to a fundamental cultural shift. Third-party certification of sustainable practices, transparency, conservation, and environmental innovation are now seen to yield significant competitive advantages for companies from Distant Lands Coffee to Lipton Tea.
NGOs including IDH Sustainable Trade, private foundations, government tea and coffee boards, and industry tea associations and coffee associations single out firms that demonstrate best practices. Many have instituted annual award programs to draw attention to the fact that companies with the best sustainability scorecards are more profitable as well.
Much remains to be done.
There is far too much waste in lands with plenty, according to sustainability researchers.
The Food Sustainability Index, created by The Economic Intelligence Unit at the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition, annually ranks countries for their nutrition, sustainable agricultural practices, food waste, and loss. Perhaps not surprising, but disappointing nonetheless to environmental, health, and nutrition advocates is that the US ranks dead last, or very near the bottom, out of 25 countries on a long list of food sustainability indicators, writes FoodNavigator.
It is encouraging to note it is the citizens of San Francisco who insisted on mandatory recycling. It is the citizens of Seattle that support the industry leading Cedar Grove composting facilities serving Puget Sound. The private sector has also concluded that aggressive regulation and government initiatives simply will not achieve critical mass.
On a global scale The Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS) foundation (See page 11)partners with government organizations such as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to build the broad coalitions needed to address monumental tasks posed by climate change. London’s Forum for the Future and the Ethical Tea Partnership are acting globally by instituting change locally.
In this issue STiR singles out the Rainforest Alliance, now celebrating its 30th anniversary, for redoubling efforts to develop business-focused partnerships with coffee and tea firms. The Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) guidelines that become effective in July (See page 48) are the perfect example of how self-assessments of sustainable practice build climate resilience from the ground up.