Debunking Sustainability Myths in the F&B and Hospitality Industry
In this article, our Communications Manager, Kim Thabani Machipisa, delves into the misconceptions that often hinder food and hospitality businesses from embarking on their sustainability journeys.
By now, most F&B and hospitality businesses are fully aware of the significant impact that ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) initiatives can have, not only on the environment and society but also on their bottom lines. In 2021, data revealed that a staggering 85% of global consumers had altered their purchasing behaviour to favour more sustainable choices over a five-year period. This is a powerful indicator of the shifting landscape.
However, counterarguments frequently say that "our customers prioritise affordability over sustainability," and that "sustainability remains a niche concept with minimal effects on our bottom line." While the former argument does hold some truth, the latter is misleading and problematic.
These misperceptions persist, so let's dissect these beliefs:
Sustainability vs. affordability
Over the years, it has been observed that sustainable products and services often come with a higher price tag due to the use of high-quality materials and sustainable supply chains. This has sometimes led customers to opt for more affordable alternatives. However, in the face of the climate crisis, a fundamental shift is underway, as more food and hospitality customers are beginning to connect the dots between their consumption choices and their impacts on the environment and communities. Surveys indicate that 55% of consumers worldwide are willing to pay more for products or brands that actively work to improve society and the environment.
Even during global cost-of-living crises, consumers are showing a commitment to maintaining high consumption standards. This should encourage hospitality businesses to persist in their sustainable operations without compromising the quality of their products or services.
Sustainability's impact on business performance
The notion that sustainability won't significantly impact business performance is paradoxical, as the very essence of sustainable operations is to create a model and culture that fosters long-term positive business outcomes while simultaneously supporting societies and preserving the environment. The misconception that profit is a 'negative' within sustainability is fundamentally incorrect. Profitability is crucial for most, if not all, businesses, and in the context of sustainability, is about championing reinvestment into higher-quality ingredients, better staff wages, career development and innovations that reduce waste and energy consumption.
The power of accreditations rooted in action
Assessing the success of sustainability efforts should not solely be approached through the lens of monetary return. Urgency and importance surround the climate targets that must be achieved collectively. F&B businesses, whether large, medium or small, face unique challenges when implementing sustainable practices across their operations. However, they can find reassurance in the widespread availability of third-party accreditations, such as Fairtrade, which are committed to helping them become more sustainable and to verify confidence in their actions.
At The SRA, we support F&B businesses globally through the Food Made Good Standard: the world's largest sustainability accreditation for the sector. Developed with the guidance of experts – ranging from experienced hospitality professionals to globally recognised organisations – the Standard offers a comprehensive evaluation of a business's entire operations.
If you are interested in learning more about how the Food Made Good Standard can create a tailor-made roadmap of practical actions for your business, you can read about the process here, sign up to get started here, or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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