WWFE report: Meat, food companies adopting sustainability strategies

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CHICAGO — How good is good enough when it comes to being a sustainable food company? Although there is no answer, there’s no denying interest in this area is growing among food companies and it is being driven by many factors, said Joel Makower, who publishes Greenbiz.com and is the author of Strategies for the Green Economy. Mr. Makower addressed sustainability issues during a Super Session titled Strategies for Sustainable Practices at the Worldwide Food Expo at McCormick Place in Chicago on Oct. 28.

"What’s driving this movement?" he retorted. Many factors, he said, including B2B customers, and to some extent consumers and some competitors, among other things.

"Some industries drive [this sustainable movement]," he said. "It could be driven by regulations or a fear of regulations. A lot of companies also see this as a way to retain talent."

Sustainable activities and strategies could be targeted at many business areas, including buildings and facilities, products, processes, packaging and waste, among other things. "Most companies are involved in a handful of [sustainable activities] and are not trying to accomplish sustainability in everything they do," he added.

Mr. Makower said some companies are "walking more than talking" in this area. "The problem is, they’re not getting any credit [for it] and that’s a big challenge [to turn this around]," he added.

Although some food company executives may not be familiar with sustainability, Mr. Makower showed a slide listing meat companies currently involved in sustainability, including Smithfield, Seaboard Foods, Tyson Foods and Sara Lee, among others. All companies involved are addressing sustainability in different ways, he said.

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