5 Top Sustainability Trends in the Food and Beverage Industry

For a long time, brands have skirted by without having to care much about sustainability. The reason behind this train of thought?

‘Customers don’t actually purchase sustainable products,’ they claimed. Using this logic for justification, it took quite a while for many establishments to jump on the bandwagon.

But that’s simply not true anymore.

Recent sustainability trends prove that consumers do care about eco-friendly options. They are buying sustainable products. In fact, 50% of consumer packaged goods (CPG) growth from 2013-2018 came entirely from sustainability-marketed products!

Products with sustainable claims on their packaging contributed to a $114 billion industry in 2018. Categories with products under this label include the likes of milk, yogurt, coffee, salty snacks, bottled juices, and much more.

So, concerning the food and beverage industry, what are the top eco-friendly trends we’re seeing?

This guide highlights some of the big ones. Keep reading!

1. Working Toward Restoring Nutrient Density to Our Food

The nutrition levels in our food have severely depleted. Over the last seven decades, nutrient levels in almost every type of food have fallen an astounding 10-100%!

To receive the expected nutritional requirements from our food, we’d need to

  • Consume twice as much meat
  • Eat three times as much fruit
  • Consume four to five times the amount of vegetables

Ramping up on consumption as so would give us the same nutritional benefits (in the form of minerals and trace elements) people derived from food in the 1940s. That’s right—the 1940s!

Why is this happening? Because of dilution. Yields have risen while mineral content has fallen.

How are we changing this? Restoring soil integrity is one way to bring back this desirable nutrient density—through fertility, structure, water-holding capacity, and more sustainable food production.

2. Beverage Packaging Is Seeing Some Changes

Let’s switch gears from soil to beverages and learn more about how companies are making some changes.

Beverage packing is layered—there’s the container itself, the label, the cap or top, and the way multiple beverages are held together. On a small but significant scale, businesses are started to focus on reducing waste in their packaging techniques and materials used.

Some examples include:

  • A prototype of a paper beer bottle
  • No more plastic rings holding six-packs together (this is getting subbed out for glued-together cans, fiber-based rings, or biodegradable paperboard holders)
  • Recyclable ink on labels
  • 3-layer plastic bottles, as opposed to 5-layer
  • Paper sleeve cartons

Companies are also focusing on production strategies that make 100% of their packaging recyclable, reusable, compostable, or biodegradable. They’re claiming to reduce carbon emissions by up to 26%. And they’re incorporating recycled content into their packaging by up to 30%.

3. Food Warehouses Are Stepping Up Their Sustainability Game

Another sustainability trend in the food industry is how food items are stored before they reach the shelves. Food warehouses are putting more effort into energy-saving practices that lower environmental impact and reduce energy use.

Some examples of this include:

  • Using more energy-efficient lighting, like LED lights
  • Drawing from non-traditional sources of power, such as installing solar on the roof
  • Utilizing new practices such as a waste-to-energy plant that converts trash into methane (which can power generators)

These energy-efficient practices have been called a ‘win-win-win’ because they save energy, which saves money, and reduces their carbon footprint. Then, warehouses can also market themselves as sustainable.

4. Restaurants Are Focusing on Sourcing Local Food

Not only do trends like this stimulate the local economy, but they cut back on energy-wasters like transportation.

Fifty-six percent of adults say they seek out restaurants that serve locally-sourced food. Another 46% say it’s important to them that their food also be organic and/or environmentally-friendly. Those numbers are too large for restaurants to ignore, and therefore, the consumers are influencing some substantial changes.

Restaurants are now sourcing more from local farmers, placing importance on:

  • The uniqueness of the products
  • The nutritional value (something we touched on earlier)
  • The cleanliness of the growing and manufacturing process

In turn, this also encourages local farms to implement eco-friendly growing and harvesting practices.

Restaurant owners who educated their service staff about the food’s source saw a decrease in wastefulness and a stronger initiative to upsell.

For restaurants that aren’t sure where to start, they’re encouraged to attend local farmer’s markets, start with small batches first, and to promote it within the restaurant. Since this trend is essential to restaurant-goers, promotion is vital.

5. Grass-Fed Beef Is Having Significant Growth

The US’ grass-fed beef market is doubling every year.

In 2016, sales of grass-fed beef reached an astounding $272 million—even more amazing when you consider that’s up from $17 million in 2012. Although this is currently only 1% of the US’ beef market, this number is sure to change with time, as predictions show.

Why the trend? Grass-fed beef has several benefits, such as:

  • Human health
  • Animal welfare
  • Climate change mitigation
  • Environmental protection
  • Improved taste and flavor

Conventionally-raised cattle, while they start on pastures, later undergo a stressful process of being contained in feedlots, where they eat grain for several months. They’re also fed what are essentially scraps and manufactured byproducts, such as candy, cookie crumbs, and potato waste.

By purchasing grass-fed beef, not only are you getting a tastier, more sustainable product, but you’re contributing to a healthier, more stress-free environment for these cattle.

These Sustainability Trends Show Great Promise

No longer is it acceptable to ignore sustainability. Everywhere you look, consumers are caring more about what they’re buying, how it’s made and packaged, and how it affects the environment.

These sustainability trends are wonderful news in a time where the world could use all the eco-love we can give it.

Thanks for doing your part to be environmentally conscious. Every small purchase makes a significant impact!

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