Global Insights & Implications
1. The sustainability agenda is accelerating
Watch out for heightened regulatory, customer and consumer demands in the coming years. In particular, pay attention to eco-scores and carbon numbers for brands raising the bar in sustainability communications. This means embracing sustainability in organisational strategy and B2C/B2B strategy, while keeping up with consumer trends, to not get caught out by the acceleration. Doing nothing around sustainability is no longer an option.
2. There are multiple sustainability conversations going on
Ensure you are focused on the right sustainability actions and are armed with the right messages for the audience you are engaging with. Buyers will have less focus on sustainability overall and will be engaged with different topics, compared to more senior sustainability-orientated leads. When communicating to consumers, keep in mind which topics are important to them and their market. Utilise this research to segment for greater impact.
3. Opportunity to dial up your sustainability comms
Be mindful of a more attentive consumer & customer as sustainability becomes more prominent. Their ‘green washing radar’ will be heightened as more brands talk to “being green” and sustainable. Be clear on your brand’s sustainability benefit and make sure your team can communicate it effectively to customers and consumers.
4. Ireland has a competitive advantage thanks to Origin Green, utilise it
As members of an organisation that is striving for a holistic, sustainable food system, Origin Green members can position themselves globally as sustainability leaders. Speaking to and addressing the ‘higher order’ sustainability topics like water quality and biodiversity demonstrates a focus on sustainability prioritisation. This will exhibit a shared sustainability mind-set to your customers.
5. The ideal supplier partner shares the sustainability mindset
Many businesses are actively integrating sustainability into the epicentre of their business strategy and ensuring it impacts throughout the business. Significant opportunity here for suppliers to establish long-term partnerships, as customers look to integrate suppliers into their supply chain, but only those that share their sustainability targets. Key requirements include demonstrable evidence of shared topic commitment, data point openness and proof. Those that don’t provide this may be left out.
6. Sustainability is becoming a core purchasing criteria
Sustainable production is becoming a more critical influencer in choosing suppliers. To get listings, sustainability credentials are vital, especially in Europe and amongst meat and dairy buyers, who are most likely to feel the weight of consumer pressure around sustainability. A minority of customers say that the majority of their suppliers have sustainability accreditation. Therefore, to achieve differentiation, make sure you communicate Origin Green clearly to suppliers and emphasize the sustainability benefit you can offer.
7. Sustainability focus growing for consumers and they expect producers to step up
Sustainability becomes more important to consumers, and they are willing to make changes to their lifestyle to become more sustainable, but they expect everyone to do their bit. They rest the most responsibility on food producers for making food and drink more sustainable. Brands that help consumers be more sustainable will win. Consider on-pack claims, QR codes to give more information or simple high impact consumer claims that customers can ‘pass on’ to consumers around the key topics.
8. Sustainable packaging and food waste are critical sustainability drivers for customers and consumers
Consumers’ sustainability focus is on more immediate, tangible topics. Currently, sustainable packaging and reducing food waste are the sustainability benefits that consumers are demanding most. As such, customers will become more demanding around packaging. It is becoming a must have. Brands that can support consumer efforts to reduce food waste have a real ability to stand out. This may include innovation in format size.
9. High welfare & grass-fed standout for beef & dairy
For dairy and beef, animal welfare and grass-fed are the most appealing sustainability attributes, as well as those most likely to drive a premium, along with quality assurance. These attributes are particularly premium-driving in European markets. Layering key support messages and proofs around grass-fed, which we know consumers relate to overall welfare, on top of the natural associations, is a strong hand to play to drive preference for Irish.
10. Understand your audience and their sustainability focus better
Explore this research further to understand the markets and different actors in the eco system better. Asian consumers tend to be more focused on the product quality, but water quality and biodiversity are also important for them. For European markets, animal welfare, local and sustainable packaging are relatively more important. Consider market demands when engaging with customers and selecting which sustainability areas to action and communicate.