Early last year, the All About Food leadership team discussed the idea of tracking where the business stood on their packaging and nutritional guidelines and where any improvements could be made within company. Fast forward a year and there have been some awesome strides made with the help of the team who have been planning, preparing and implementing a wider sustainability project that fits AAF like a glove. So to help us explain how we got started, and where we want to be with this subject we had a chat with Nick, our category bod and one part of our sustainability team, to gain a better understanding of the what, where and how. Enjoy!

Sustainability within business – what is it?

That’s a pretty broad question! The definition of sustainability is: the ability to be maintained at a certain level or rate, and for us that means always being in a position where our products are the best they can be in regards to health, the environment and wastage in line with what can realistically be done at a business of our size.

The project was initially started as an audit of many aspects of our business, which included how our products compared to the rest of the industry. This was mainly from a nutritional and packaging standpoint, but it has now grown to encompass how other parts of our business are becoming environmentally sustainable, from the products to the office space.

This may be a silly question, but why is sustainability important?

It isn’t a silly question, because there are many different motivations for looking at sustainability within business. For us, it was about making sure as a business we were where we should be compared to the industry. Because of our size, we’re never going to be a huge market leader in sustainability, but on the same token, we want to be doing our bit by always proactively checking our processes and NPD plans to ensure any positive changes we make are carried through going forward, for example.

What actually happens during the sustainability project?

What happens now varies slightly from how the project started. As I said, we initially completed an audit on many aspects of the business. We needed to check where we were ourselves before we compared ourselves to anyone else in the industry. Once we had reviewed ourselves, we tried to evaluate whether our processes worked for each of our core external stakeholders – brand owners, consumers and retailers (we call this the triple-win process). As we moved forward, we realised there was room for us to make changes immediately whilst still implementing longer-term ideas. These processes included nutritional changes, packaging requirements and more. As legislation, changes, we may find that our products no longer fit their name or description (this usually happens for light products where there’s a set limit on certain ingredients).

What was the overall goal for the sustainability project?

The overall goal is ever changing, but to always be in a place where we’re proactively staying par-for-the-course within our industry and for a company of our size. We understand we’re never going to be industry leaders – and we know we can’t – but we want to play our part in developing a sustainability plan that’s right for us.

The initial goal of the Leadership Team was to merely assess where we were at, and once we had done that, the goal was always evolving. What we do today (minimise packaging, implement bench-marking across the board, legislation review, etc) will not be the goal for tomorrow. We would love our fleet to be fully electrical or our office-space to be using sustainable energy, but that’s all for the future. We’ll always be working towards something more.