A healthy future: Increased health-consciousness drives changein the food and beverage industry

5 February 2018

Consumers are becoming increasingly health-conscious, and not 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 have woken up, however, and are driving major changes in the industry. Food and beverage companies are being forced to listen.

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“Consumers are my salespeople,” Logan Kock, Chief Sustainability Officer at Santa Monica Seafood says when explaining how word of mouth is a big part of how new customers are discovering his business.

“Consumer demands have given us a platform to tell our story and an opportunity to fill a void in the market,” DeBellis says. “Our strategy is to continue to innovate both in product offerings and business practices to raise the bar and continue to provide value to consumers.”

DeBellis notes that innovative market leaders in food and beverage are not just talking sustainability but backing it up by redesigning packaging, pursuing sustainable manufacturing practices, and innovating with new product offerings.

Director of Operations Amelia Winslow makes sure Health-Ade’s policies reflect its consumers’ values.

“Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy, and choosing to buy from companies that share their values,” Winslow says. “We are transparent about our ingredients, our practices and our values — and our product is something consumers want and need. In fact, our founders created this product as consumers who wanted something they could not find.”

Consumers are demanding that food and beverage companies pay closer attention to where they are sourcing materials. Increasingly the market is pushing for the use of raw materials certified by a reputable body.

“We are purchasing more coffee beans that are certified because wholesale customers are requesting it, and end use channels like grocery stores are getting consumer requests for it,” notes Jeff Durbin, Chief Financial Officer at Gavina Coffee.

This trend is being followed industry-wide. Califia Farms is currently sourcing the coffee for its Ready-to-Drink Cold Brews through Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms. In order to win certification, farmers must follow sustainable practices that protect forests, rivers, soils and wildlife. The certification also ensures that workers are paid a living wage, and are granted improved access to dignified living conditions, healthcare and education for their children. (See www.rainforest-alliance.org for more information.)

As consumer become increasingly eco-conscious, food and beverage companies’ are taking steps to minimise environmental footprint. Companies such as Earth Island/Follow Your Heart have made their headquarters zero-waste, energy positive facilities (or are working to become such) through various techniques, including the use of solar panels. Others work at reducing their footprint by outsourcing operations, such as at Sun Harvest Salt.

“We look for the most efficient ways to ship and store our products,” Chief Executive Officer and Founder Ramona Cappello of Sun Harvest Salt explains. “We max out each truck, which results in no wasted space or excess gas use.

Our competitors often use just-in-time order fulfilment and order by pallet, which reflects how their customers do business, but they spend much more in freight due to inefficient shipping.”

Ultimately, increased social-consciousness is driving such changes.

Chris Mann, Chief Executive Officer of Guayakí Sustainable Rainforest Products, Inc., notes that his company’s commitment to preserving the rainforest has led to increased consumer demand.

“Customer demand has driven us to develop new products, then consumers want more — it is a virtuous circle,” Mann expands. “We look at it as Steve Jobs looked at it. Customer research only goes so far — you have to create it and put it out there and explain why customers want it and then it expands. That is disruption.”

Author: Donald Snyder and team, HLB USA, Green Hasson Janks

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