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How to achieve sustainability goals across the entire plant-based supply chain

March 27, 2023

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important consideration in all areas of the plant-based supply chain, but particularly when it comes to production and manufacturing. With consumer demand for environmentally friendly products ever increasing, it is now more important than ever for companies to integrate sustainable practices into their supply chain, particularly as they scale up their production.

So, where do we start? Here are five actionable tips ahead of this year’s Plant-Based Protein Manufacturing Summit taking place on the 12/13 April in Amsterdam, to help your brand achieve sustainability across your supply chain.

Sustainable ingredient sourcing: The foundation of any sustainable plant-based product are the raw materials, so sourcing sustainable ingredients is key. Willicroft, the first plant-based cheese brand in Europe to achieve B-Corp certification, looks at how to reduce the total impact of every ingredient they source.

“Although not every ingredient we use in our cheeses can be grown locally, we handpick suppliers that are producing and supplying produce as sustainably as possible," commented Brad Vanstone, Founder of Willicroft and speaker at this year’s summit, which The Future of Protein Production is proud to support. "We're also exploring taking a closer ownership of our supply chain by growing white beans in the Netherlands. We're conducting our second pilot of 5 hectares this year with the goal of securing all our white beans using regenerative practices from 2024 onwards.”

Vanstone will be sharing key insights into how Willicroft is able to amplify their impact through effective collaboration with manufacturing partners, exploring lessons learnt from their journey so far.

Switch to renewable energy: Production plants can be energy intensive and whether you’re building your own manufacturing facility or working with co-manufactures, ensuring the factory is as sustainable as possible will make a significant impact on your brand's ability to achieve your sustainability goals. Switching to renewable energy (or supporting your manufacturing partners to do this) is one way to reduce your carbon footprint, and could even reduce your overall energy costs over time. Oatly is committed to building a sustainable supply chain and ensuring that their products are created in facilities that meet their Future Factory Criteria. Colin Muir, Oatly’s Sustainable Sourcing Manager Indirect will explore key considerations when building and scaling a sustainable factory, as well as the importance of engaging co-manufacturing partners to help deliver sustainability ambitions.

Work with local manufacturing partners: It’s important not to underestimate the impact of your transportation and logistics on carbon footprint. For a brand looking to achieve scale, you can choose to export your products internationally from your manufacturing facility or look to collaborate with manufacturing partners in the various local markets in which you sell. Although the latter can offer sustainability benefits, finding co-manufacturing partners can be difficult as a plant-based brand. This year’s summit will bring together plant-based brands with co-manufacturing partners and equipment suppliers to facilitate collaboration.

Minimize waste: Minimizing waste is key to sustainable manufacturing. Consider identifying side streams and byproducts from your production process which have the untapped potential to be upcycled into consumable products.

Prioritize continuous improvement: Sustainability is a journey, not a destination. By continuously monitoring and evaluating your practices to identify areas for improvement, you can move towards your goal. Learn from Anya Doherty, Founder of Food Steps on how they use data insights from across the entire food product life cycle to identify hotspots in their supply chain to improve sustainability efforts.

The Future of Protein Production readers can save 10% on registration with code: D10-999-FPG

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If you have any questions or would like to get in touch with us, please email info@futureofproteinproduction.com

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