Sustainability Communications

Use the framework below to understand where your customer is with sustainability in their business.

Sustainability Laggards
Environmental or social impact not a consideration in sourcing decisions
Sustainability Followers
Reactive to NGO, consumer pressure, and competitor trends to source sustainably
Sustainability Leaders
As a core value of the organisation sustainability is integrated in all corporate decision making
Low Maturity Mid Maturity High Maturity
Low Maturity Mid Maturity High Maturity

Sustainability Laggards

Low Maturity Mid Maturity High Maturity

Sustainability Laggards

Environmental or social impact not a consideration in sourcing decisions

Overview of a sustainability laggard

  • Sourcing priorities include security of supply, low price and quality
  • Environmental or social impact not a consideration in sourcing decisions
  • Price sensitive consumers purchase local, low price food
  • Growing trend for convenience food – plastic use and waste mangement are not considerations
  • Consumers with a high spend capability purchase luxury imported foods
  • No NGO or consumer pressure for responsible sourcing
  • Other priorities, such as halal certification in Saudi Arabia

Sustainability language used by sustainability laggards

  • Perception of the country of origin for imports as clean and natural
  • Security of supply

Sustainability Followers

Low Maturity Mid Maturity High Maturity

Sustainability Followers

Reactive to NGO, consumer pressure, and competitor trends to source sustainably

Overview of a sustainability follower

  • Following trends set by sustainability leaders
  • Reactive to NGO, consumer pressure, and competitor trends to source sustainably
  • Responsible sourcing for risk mitigation
  • Sustainability teams driving CSR and responsible sourcing programmes
  • Use third party sustainability certifications
  • Procurement make sourcing decisions predominantly on price and quality

Sustainability language used by sustainability followers

  • Sustainability certification
  • Reduction in carbon emissions
  • Animal welfare
  • Working with NGOs to achieve expected sustainability targets
  • Supplier partnerships to drive sustainability programmes down the supply chain
  • Natural animal feed – preference for grass feeding
  • Managed use of antibiotics
  • Recyclable packaging
  • Compliance with human rights / slave labour legislation
  • Continuous improvement
  • Corporate Social Responsibility

Sustainability Leaders

Low Maturity Mid Maturity High Maturity

Sustainability Leaders

As a core value of the organisation sustainability is integrated in all corporate decision making

Overview of a sustainability leader

  • As a core value of the organisation, sustainability is integrated in all corporate decision making
  • Setting sustainability trends for the food industry
  • Leaders in implementing sustainability initiatives
  • Sustainability used to differentiate against competitors
  • Using innovation to drive sustainability thinking and continuous improvement
  • Working in partnership with suppliers and NGOs

Sustainability language used by sustainability leaders

  • Reduction in carbon emissions
  • Operational effectiveness to minimise resource consumption
  • Animal welfare and natural feed
  • Working in partnership with NGOs and suppliers
  • Continuous improvement
  • Regenerative agricultural practices
  • Impact-based targets, measurement and reporting
  • Community engagement / CSR
  • Sustainability certification
  • Managed use of antibiotics
  • Innovative packaging to reduce waste to landfill
  • Promoting products and brands with a purpose

General Principles

1 . Keep it simple, don’t use jargon– how do you translate your approach to sustainability into everyday language?

Customers may not understand the word ‘biodiversity’ but they would understand ‘protecting nature and animals’

 

2 . Focus on the customer benefit– what does it mean to me?

The progress you are making on a key issue e.g. organic milk needs to be framed in terms of what it means for your customer e.g. does it deliver them with reputational benefit or a communications opportunity or contribute to their sustainability reporting?

 

3 . Talk about the issues that make sense for your brand- where can you have the biggest impact?

Talking about the issues that are directly related to your business and product show that you are focusing your efforts and energy on the areas where you could have the biggest social, environmental and economic impact.

 

4 . Shape the debate, don’t simply add to the noise – what’s your unique point of view?

For example, there is a lot of debate around plastics in the media and the public sphere. If this issue is relevant to your business, what is your stance and what makes that worth communicating to customers?

 

5 . You don’t need to go it alone– can your customers become partners for change?

Many of your impacts will involve your customers e.g. the packaging they require a product to come in. Partnering with your customers to improve the sustainability of your shared activities can not only deliver a bigger impact but also build relationships beyond business transactions.

 

6 . Bring customers along on your journey– can you share your work in progress sooner?

Wanting to give customers the best impression of your business is natural, but sharing your work in progress can demonstrate transparency, lead to collaboration and show that you are already thinking about upcoming important issues.

 

7 . Back it up with data and proof points– what impact are you having?

Communicating about sustainability is an opportunity to demonstrate what your business is actually doing on the ground on a topic and to build your credibility with customers. It also avoids greenwash, which carries reputational risk.