More and more foodservice brands are aligning their business objectives with sustainable food initiatives as the benefits of these practices become evident. According to the report Our Common Future created by the UN World Commission on Environment and Development, sustainability is “ensuring that we meet our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sustainable food purchasing reduces the risk of exposure to a variety of health concerns, improves a brand’s reputation, supports environmental conservation and serves many other goals.
As such, sustainability goals have unique effects on supply chain and procurement management as they pertain to the foodservice industry. Here are some of the most common questions being asked by business owners and managers:
What is the Impact of Sustainable Food Practices on Procurement Management?
From a procurement perspective, sustainability involves careful consideration of several factors, including the cost and quality of food products; it also means weighing the correlative social and environmental impacts. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) pointed out several considerations, such as:
- Companies must consider emerging labor issues The industry primarily involved with food production is agriculture. The work involved for laborers is difficult and dangerous; they’re also poorly paid.
- The diet-related concerns of consumers are factors Obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure impact procurement management, as consumers look for healthier food options.
- Genetically modified organisms continue to impact supply chain and procurement There are concerns about limited testing of GMOs, which affects companies seeking to purchase “cleaner” products.
- The conservation of natural resources is a paramount concern Sustainability focuses on reducing our carbon footprint, so logistical and transportation aspects of procurement are a consideration.
How Can Companies Prepare for These New Trends in Foodservice Supply Chains?
While your preparation procedures will be more detailed in scope, the framework for moving towards sustainability is a step-by-step approach:
- Lay the foundation Before embarking on a transition into sustainability in procurement policies, set your company up for success. Gather a group of stakeholders and engage leaders at all levels of the supply chain.
- Establish goals and develop an action plan Define the objectives you seek to accomplish, setting phased goals instead of an end result. Develop a plan of action around these goals and specify who and how each will be accomplished.
- Identify and prioritize opportunities Rather than roll out your entire approach at once, target certain partners that can contribute to the collaborative effort. These are the priority opportunities to focus on during the initial phases.
- Put the plan in action Engage the plan by encouraging the primary players to perform the tasks you’ve assigned to them.
- Evaluate performance You need a means of assessing effectiveness, both internally and externally. Determine how your efforts have affected your company and supply chain, as well as the advantages it has bestowed on farmers, laborers, the environment and other targets you seek to improve.
Clearly, adjusting business objectives in accordance with sustainable food practices is required, most especially in supply chain and procurement management. In essence, companies must seek quality in the purchasing process and satisfy the demand for value in product procurement. At the same time, they must continue to ensure smooth supply chain operations and provide premium quality service to customers.
About Michael Wilson
Michael Wilson is AFFLINK'S Vice President of Marketing and Communications. He has been with the organization since 2005 and provides strategic leadership for the entire supply chain team. In his free time, Michael enjoys working with the Wounded Warrior Project, fishing, and improving his cooking skills.