Consumers Demand Sustainable Food and Companies Find Opportunity in Restrategizing

Customers Changing Food Preferences Demand Food Industry to Restrategize  

Today many consumers are passionate about their health, and it is none too soon. As a nation, the U.S. has become progressively less healthy, and the food and beverage industry has been a major contributor. From high-fructose corn syrup to highly refined carbohydrates, the U.S. has literally made itself sick. Consumers, however, are creating a major change in the industry. Food and beverage companies that want to keep growing and serving their customers have to listen to their customers' demands. One of the key findings of the Agriculture in America Sustainability Report 2017 was - 81% of farmers and ranchers agree that consumers are growing more concerned about environmental sustainability of the products they buy. 
In September 2017, Green Hasson Janks, published the 2017 Food and Beverage Report: The Future of Food - Meeting Consumer Demands with Sustainable Resources. The white paper, focusing mostly on the food and beverage ecosystem in California, asked a cross-section of food industry executives about their views on social responsibility and sustainability. Social responsibility is clearly perceived as an important value, with 77 percent of survey respondents reporting that they have changed or added products based on consumer sustainability concerns. Subject matter experts overwhelmingly felt that those companies with a commitment to social responsibility do better in the marketplace.
Some of the major takeaways of the study are as follows:
  • 77% of industry respondents reported that they have changed or added products based on consumer concerns.
  • 61% customers will chose a PRODUCT with CSR. These customers would choose one product over another if they see some type of corporate social responsibility practices on the packaging. 
  • 63% of survey respondents have established a formal CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY STRATEGY.
  • TOP 2 BENEFITS of corporate responsibility programs/strategies are MARKETING and CONSUMER PREFERENCE.
  • WASTE REDUCTION is the #1 social responsibility program for food and beverage companies. Other commonly adopted Sustainable Strategies are as follows:

Sustainability Strategies by Food and Beverage Companies

“Until recently, restaurants and markets would reject imperfect fruits and vegetables due to customer preferences, causing farmers to waste much of their harvest,” says Donald Snyder, partner and leader of the Food and Beverage Practice at Green Hasson Janks and one of the Principal Authors of the Report. “Now consumers are shifting to an environmentally conscious lifestyle and companies that deliver imperfect foods are popping up everywhere".  Commenting on sustainability trends in the industry, he continues, "You cannot effectively run any company without sustainability standards these days.....Companies are getting involved with annual sustainability reports now, which is a step that goes beyond regular reporting. Socially responsible food and beverage companies attract customers that expect to pay a higher price for SKUs that are healthier or better for the earth".  Snyder adds that the evidence is mostly anecdotal on whether a social responsibility policy directly impacts revenue, but notes, "Companies that are founded on a sustainability strategy owe ALL their revenues to being socially conscious by definition.”