4 Ways to Focus on Sustainable Products

Customers Care About Sustainability

You Should, Too

Sustainability is a topic on everyone’s lips, and according to The Specialty Food Organization, sustainability is a top food trend for 2019. We all know we want it, and are willing to pay more for it, but what makes a product sustainable? There isn’t one magic answer.

There are many factors that give a product its sustainability status. We’ve broken it down into 4 main categories that pique customer interest and help encourage a purchase by means of the “feel good factor”.

As a product’s sustainability is not always immediately obvious, make customers’ quests simpler with hang tag call outs on sustainable products throughout your store.  Add a line or two on the tag describing why or how that product supports socially conscious efforts. Showing your support for important causes also helps imprint on customers that your business cares – creating customer loyalty.

#1: Social Benefit

Sometimes, sustainable status is reached by how a company invests its profits, rather than how they manufacture the product. Customers are looking for products that support their personal values. For instance, This Bar Saves Lives donates a food packet to a child in need globally with every product purchase, while KiZE energy bars financially support local and global efforts that feed those in need.

Animal conservation is another cause customers can support through the purchase of Endangered Species chocolate bars. The company donates a portion of its profits to organizations protecting endangered species and their environment. 

Many of these same companies may make several claims about sustainability status as they fall into more than one socially conscious category simultaneously. For instance, a company may support a social cause with a share of the profits, while also sourcing ingredients locally and/or producing the item in conjunction with Fair Trade standards as well.

#2: Reduces Environmental Impact

Growing practices impact a product’s sustainability. Certain crops can deplete soil if not grown responsibly and particular pesticides and fertilizers can run into and impact the water supply. Companies like Lundberg Family Farms employ eco-positive growing practices for the rice, rice cakes, rice chips and risottos that they create.

These same ideals are taken to the sea where maintaining our waters, our delicate eco-systems, and protecting wildlife is important to sustainability. Overfishing can change the underwater ecosystem and impact other wildlife that depends upon the fish as a food source. Catching practices impact wildlife that may be unintentionally caught, or even trapped in discarded nets and lines. Seafood companies like Wild Planet, whose canned tuna and sardines are caught using line fishing and other sustainable practices help ensure other wildlife is protected. Nathan’s is another company employing sustainable catching methods for its salmon products.

#3 Recyclable Product/Packaging

Reducing product waste is also important to customers. They often look for products and packaging made from recyclable materials like baking and wrapping materials by If you Care.  If You Care is also committed to ensuring their products are ethically sourced. Vermont’s Kate’s Homemade Butter calls out on the packaging that its butter tub is reusable and recyclable. Kate’s sources all its cream from local dairy farms who pledge to never use artificial growth hormones. Their butter never uses artificial colors, preservatives or additives.

#4: Beneficial to Farmers/Workers

Treatment of workers is another important cause to take into consideration when thinking of sustainability. This is particularly important when dealing with food products such as coffee or chocolate that source ingredients from developing countries. Consumers know to look for Fair Trade certified products these categories. To obtain this designation, the company has to meet stringent guidelines in relation to providing fair reimbursement to farmers, investments in the farmer’s community, and focusing on minimizing environmental impact.  Divine Chocolate proudly wears their Fair Trade designation on their labels. The company is co-owned by the cocoa farmers who provide the 100% Fair Trade cocoa.

Fair trade is not the only way that companies support workers. Brands like Bob’s Red Mill turn employees into employee-owners through an Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP).

Sustainability is more than just a selling point.  It’s a way for companies, retailers, and, consumers to help better the world we live in.  By understanding the elements that go into sustainability, we can be more conscious when making decisions on what to stock, and help customers select products that reflect their values. Sustainability is a win for all of us.

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