A recent Garnier report shows that 73% of consumers want to be more sustainable, and that companies with weak sustainability credentials will increasingly dissuade people from purchasing that company’s products or services.
And it is in the supply chain where most sustainability efforts need to be made, with scope 3 emissions – those of suppliers in the value chain – accounting for up to 80% of carbon emissions from all businesses.
The push to clean up supply chains isn’t new – it’s just much more prevalent today. In the past, there were usually high-profile ESG transgressions that caused public outrage. Historically, ESG transgressions have occurred most often in the fashion and food sectors. Examples include Nike’s use of illegal labor in the late 1990s and the boycott of Nestlé from 1977 to 1984, due to its aggressive marketing of infant formula across Africa.
The food sector acts on ESG in the supply chain
Today in North West Africa, chocolate makers are eliminating child slave labor from their supply chains, in response to a lawsuit filed last year by children represented by International rights defenders, who say they were enslaved on cocoa plantations that supplied cocoa to Nestlé, Mars, Mondelēz and Hershey. Not only are such supply chain breaches illegal, but perhaps more damaging, a public relations disaster.
One organization helping to promote ESG compliance in food sourcing is the Michelin Guide, which has now added a green star to its famous fine dining stars. An anonymous Michelin Guide inspector spoke to Digital supply chain sister magazine, Durability.
“The Green Star involves a new collection of restaurants that unites chefs around a common cause, whose inspiring initiatives and methods help raise awareness of the importance of environmental issues,” the spokesperson said.
Other sustainability-based food rewards are gaining popularity, from Earthshot Prize for Net Zero Leader of the Year.
Michelin Green Star is the net zero showcase
Celebrating remarkable chefs in this way takes food supply chain sustainability initiatives in an imaginative new direction.
The Inspector said: “Today we are using all of our available communication channels to highlight these leaders and their teams. Our goal is to bring to light, for the industry and the general public, the practices and philosophies that contribute to a more virtuous world.
So what exactly are Michelin Green Star chefs doing to be more sustainable? Here are some examples:
- Work directly with producers, farmers and fishermen
- Forage in hedgerows and woods
- Grow plants and raise animals
- Use regenerative methods such as no-dig vegetable gardens and growing successive cover crops
“They also often go beyond environmental considerations, to address issues related to ethics and well-being, as well as contributing to local, national or global charitable and educational projects,” the Inspector said.
For budding chefs, Michelin seeks a responsible attitude towards the food supply chain.
“There is no specific formula for awarding a green star, as each restaurant and its surrounding area has a unique set of conditions.”
Michelin Guide Supply Chain Hit List
Inspectors, it seems, are simply looking for those who are at the top of their game when it comes to sustainable practices. They consider things such as:
Meanwhile, on decarbonizing the supply chain, carbon offsetting isn’t the answer, says Biotech company co-founder and CEO Fotis Fotiadis Best originwhose objective is to maintain the sustainability of the supply chain in the long term.
Better Origin sees a future without food waste. By using AI-powered insect mini-farms to convert leftover nutrients into essential nutrients, the company can reduce food waste and emissions.
Carbon offset no response to net zero – Best origin
“At Better Origin, we have developed tools to convert food waste into nutritious, high value-added food for animals,” says Fotiadis. “We can deploy our systems on farms, food waste facilities or supermarkets and we process the waste into different products, such as chicken feed or fish feed. This will vary depending on how much food waste you put into it. If you have, for example, cereal that comes out of a brewery, it’s very clean and there’s nothing wrong with it – we can actually convert it into human food.
“We do all of this through a decentralized and highly autonomous system. This is very important, because we can deploy a system on site and the user, whether a farmer or operator, does not need to know anything about breeding insects. We do all of this remotely and our software takes care of the farming. We have lowered the barrier to entry for anyone interested in getting into insect farming.
Fotiadis insists that there are better solutions than carbon offsetting, for companies that want to decarbonize the food supply chain.
He says, “Carbon offsets are a very hot topic of discussion right now,” says Fotiadis. “However, the risk with offsets is that it’s almost like a license to pollute. In fact, this does not solve the problem.
“If we were to use carbon offsets to mitigate this problem and decarbonize the food supply chain, we would run out of land in a few years. I’m a big supporter of the net zero movement and it’s great to see governments, consumers and retailers pushing for it, but we need to start looking at how we can make meaningful changes to reduce emissions and not just continue Like nothing ever happened.
So, as companies embrace more sustainable options, what role should supply chains play?
Fotiadis says, “Supply chains should work with companies, so they can find where they can reduce or eliminate emissions. This happens at the source, where the programs are created. The way we work at Better Origin, because of the flexibility we have with our systems and the self-contained element that we’ve built into the system, all we can do is work with businesses like supermarkets and to go plug our systems into the supply chain to decarbonize this. We would just go and install our systems and convert their food waste into products that could go back on their shelves. What you’re doing there is really starting to come full circle in this food cycle or in the food supply chain.
“You mitigate emissions at source by avoiding food waste and producing locally. It also produces profits, because when you plant trees to pay for this carbon offset, there is nothing to return, unlike when you actually clean up your emissions using our technology. We can reduce food waste, reduce emissions and produce a product that we can then resell in your stores. It is also a fundamental value of our company. The way our capitalist society works doesn’t make sense – it won’t work. You have to make money by being sustainable.
“That’s why we’ve worked hard on a solution that can reduce emissions, while being cost effective and cleaning up emissions at the source in your supply chain. The core of what we do is helping these companies decarbonize the food supply chain.
From the companies Better Origin has worked with, the response has been hopeful.
“In food production, it’s quite a large and slow industry,” says Fotiadis. “You are convinced of the changes, but once they are convinced, they are quite quick to adopt. The reception so far has been very positive, although it takes a bit of time to get them to the point of adoption.
Meanwhile, back with green chefs, the unnamed Michelin inspector said that as restaurants continue to reassess their supply chains, “a local and sustainable approach is more attractive than ever”.
added the inspector. “The pandemic has accelerated our focus on the state of our planet and the responsibility we each bear. L’Etoile Verte has found its natural place and is enriched every day by exchanges with professionals in the sector and foodies from all over the world who want to consume more responsibly.