In a world increasingly attuned to the environment needs of the planet, it is becoming a prerequisite for food and drink manufacturers to be producing their goods with sustainability at the forefront of their thinking.
It seems likely that in the long-run, those retailers and manufacturers who can demonstrate business responsibility through sustainable improvements that prioritise environmental, social, health and quality values will be most favoured by consumers.
A number of organisations are working collaboratively to drive positive change and here’s a snapshot of wider support that is on offer.
The three Food Centres in Wales, namely Food Technology Centre (north Wales), Food Centre Wales (mid and west Wales) and ZERO2FIVE (south Wales) work closely with food and drink companies through Project HELIX to help them grow, innovate, compete and reach new markets. As part of the centres’ services, they can help businesses to become more productive and sustainable by minimising their process waste. This includes looking at issues such as waste mapping, process efficiency and wider technical and operational support.
Wider services include practical knowledge transfer activity, supporting companies to develop and reformulate innovative products from concept, design, development and manufacture, through to the consumer’s shopping basket.
They work with Welsh companies to forensically analyse each step of the manufacturing process, identifying ways of introducing efficiencies across process controls, site design and systems development. Project HELIX’s strategic approach enables food producers in Wales to benefit from best practice and industry intelligence from across the world. For example, companies can receive help to achieve third party certification such as BRCGS and SALSA, which open up new markets for their products.
AMRC Cymru is part of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and is working with Food and Drink Wales to support food and drink businesses with their manufacturing ambitions.
At the heart of this business transformation will be embracing the potential of the technology of today and working in partnership to tackle the challenges of tomorrow through business resilience and manufacturing sustainability support.
AMRC Cymru is engaged on a number of innovative sustainability projects in Wales. Projects currently underway include working with start-up business Polytag to develop a smart, tagging, segregation and sorting technology for plastic packaging, with the aim of improving its recyclability.
AMRC Cymru is also supporting businesses to be more efficient with their manufacturing processes, using advanced technology such as Artificial Intelligence, digital simulations, cobots, robots and virtual reality to help them become more efficient and reach their net zero goals.
Established in 2010, FareShare Cymru is part of a network of 25 similar centres located across the UK, delivering quality, in date surplus food, which would otherwise have gone to waste, to those in need. Volunteers are crucial to the company’s work, helping turn an environmental problem into a social solution.
The company began delivering food in July 2011 and has since extended its focus beyond just providing food. Working with over 170 organisations that address the underlying causes of hunger, all while reducing the environmental impact of food waste in Wales, FareShare Cymru seeks to create lasting solutions.
Established in the UK in 2000, WRAP works with governments, businesses and citizens in over 40 countries to make the world a more sustainable place by tackling the causes of the climate crisis.
As part of WRAP, and delivering a Wales-specific package of work, WRAP Cymru supports the environmental goals of Welsh Government. It also operates the Collaborative Change Programme, assisting local authorities in Wales to meet the statutory recycling targets. Supplementing this is the Wales Recycles campaign, which encourages citizens to adopt positive recycling behaviours.
Other programmes and projects that WRAP Cymru is involved in include working with the public sector to increase the procurement of sustainable goods and working via the Circular Economy Fund and supply chain projects to support the use of recycled material in manufacturing.
WRAP’s Wales Food Waste Roadmap identifies a suite of interventions which could deliver reductions in food waste across the supply chain. The mechanisms, identified in a comprehensive review of evidence, have proven to work when applied elsewhere in the world.
Set in stunning scenery between the Cambrian Mountains and the Irish Sea, AberInnovation offers world-leading expertise and state of the art facilities within the biotechnology, agri-tech, and food and drink sectors at its Innovation and Enterprise Campus. With an ideal environment for industrial and academic collaboration to flourish, AberInnovation can accelerate a company’s route to market by facilitating new product and process development and de-risking R&D activities.
The Food and Drink Federation is a not-for-profit association that champions food and drink manufacturers across Wales. Bringing together business, government and stakeholders to ensure our manufacturers have the right conditions to grow, invest and employ, while continuing to produce high quality, nutritious and affordable food and drink. Its contribution is supported by the collective excellence of the FDF team and focuses on Welsh specific work within the areas of competitiveness, EU transition, Covid-19 recovery, workforce and skills, diet and health, sustainability and industry growth.
As part of its work, the FDF has produced a Net Zero Handbook for sector stakeholders and policymakers which outlines how it, and the wider food and drink sector, are contributing to deliver net zero. The handbook provides practical guidance for all food and drink manufacturers in implementing their own decarbonisation roadmaps.
The Green Business Loan Scheme works to directly address these common problems and provides Welsh businesses a package of support that helps reduce carbon emissions and allows businesses to save on future energy bills.
This includes access to fully and part-funded consultancy support that helps businesses understand their own path to decarbonisation; discounted fixed interest rates on green business loans for energy efficiency measures and low carbon heat installations; and patient capital, with upfront capital repayment holidays and a loan term linked to project payback.
In partnership with Toyota Lean Management Centre at Deeside, the Toyota Lean Clusters Programme offers assistance for companies that want to make sustainable improvements in their competitiveness.
Business of any size, research organisations, third sector organisations and health boards are able to access funding to increase the use of recycled and re-used content in products or components or to extend the lifetime of products / materials.