Business and Operations
Sustainability in the kitchen
Bringing green initiatives to your bakery can put the “green” back in your wallet.
By Bakers Journal
Practicing sustainability doesn’t have to be a luxury. Sustainable solutions can be affordable, accessible and often put money back into your bakery’s budget. Environmental consultant Josh Prigge spoke at the RC Show to discuss how green decisions bring more “green” back into your pocket.
B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance. Prigge explains, “it’s really representing a new type of business, and a new sector of the economy where people are using for profit entities to solve the world’s problems.” He lists Ben and Jerry’s as among a few of the top B Corporations. “It’s becoming more and more clear that a company’s bottom line and growth potential is starting to depend on sustainability.”
Prigge cites consumer demand as a driving force. “Millennials, Gen Z and Gen X, are the ones that are really leading this charge. But, the data shows us that their older counterparts really aren’t that far behind in this belief. They want to purchase from sustainable companies, they want to purchase sustainable products. They want to purchase from companies that share their values, and their beliefs.”
“Nielsen is doing a lot of research. In a recent Nielsen study where they surveyed 30,000 people around the world. They learned that 81 per cent of respondents said that it’s extremely or very important that companies implement programs to improve the environment. And when it comes to action, 73 per cent said they would rather, or maybe they’re definitely or probably changed their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.”
Prigge adds that the other side of the coin is investor demand. He cited an “incredible rise” in what’s called ESG investing. ESG stands for environmental social governance. Bakeries that invest in ingredient companies that provide sustainable and socially responsible goods are on the rise. “We’ve seen a huge rise just in the past 12 to 24 months, which tells us that investors believe sustainability as an important aspect of the companies that they invest in. So, ESG is the consideration of environmental, social and governance factors, alongside financial factors in the investment decision making process.”
Prigge quoted American billionaire businessman Larry Fink. “Within the next five years, all investors will measure a company’s impact on society, government and the environment to determine its worth, and to prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”
Bakeries that boast a delicious product but do not donate or participate in municipal events or local charities could suffer financially for not engaging with their community. Seeking a bakery employee who shares in the company’s values will help not just boost morale, but sales. “Millennials will compromise 75 per cent of the global workforce by 2025. Many have a desire to do meaningful work. Employees are becoming more focused on working for companies that share their values and share their beliefs just as more consumers are looking to purchase from those types of companies. They’re looking for companies that are about something more than simply maximizing profits. They want to be a part of something that is contributing to making the world a better place.”
Prigge added many employees all over the world really are questioning the meaning of their work, which may explain why the post-pandemic workforce is experiencing a lower than usual engagement rate. He recommends actively involving employees in corporate sustainability initiatives, which “provides them with more purpose or meaning in their work and leading to more engagement and higher productivity.”
The National Environmental Education Foundation conducted a number of studies on the impacts of sustainability on employee engagement. These studies were in partnership with Price Waterhouse Coopers. And they found that there’s a positive relationship between sustainability engagement, and employee engagement, and that sustainability engagement positively impacts nearly all dimensions of traditional employee engagement, including alignment to the company pride discretionary effort that they’re giving an advocacy for the company.
Prigge noted that the risks faced in business are not just the physical risks of climate change. Proactive initiatives to reduce energy use, to reduce food waste, and regulations that might be evolving in the near future around food waste and solid waste. He recommends that Bakeries that are providing single-use disposable plastic items such as cutlery and cups, using a proactive approach such as moving toward compostable or recyclable offerings could help mitigate future costs.
Prigge stated, “reducing solid waste, not sending food waste to the landfill, reducing energy use, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing water use; all of these practices save your business money. Waste in our society really is a result of design flaw. We need to rethink redesign, the way that we develop our products, the way that we operate our facilities, the way that we run our businesses and the way that we operate as a society to rethink and redesign waste and become more efficient.
He noted that increased consumer demand for sustainable products, reduced operating costs through energy-saving initiatives, attracting and retaining young talent all are factors that lead to higher performing companies. “Overwhelming evidence suggests that sustainable companies outperform their peers.” Prigge cited a statistic from Nielsen from 2020: “Sales of consumer goods from brands with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability has grown more than 4 per cent globally…the UK is showing that that certified B corps in the UK are growing 28 times faster than the national economic growth rate.”
Unilever’s sustainable brands are growing 50 per cent faster than the rest of their business. Unilever’s CEO said, “our results show that sustainability is good for business. There’s no doubt that our sustainable products are making us more competitive and research. The, there’s mounting evidence that shows sustainable companies deliver significant financial performance.” / BJ