Sustainability must be on your to do list - SKUFood
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Sustainability must be on your to do list

You need to demonstrate results

We have been talking about sustainability for a while, it is not new. It was on our trend list the last few years. What has changed is you need to change from thinking about it to proving what you are doing.

We will take the first 10 weeks of the year to dive into our 2024 trends. We want to provide you with as much context to determine where to focus the efforts of your business. Everyone has a limited amount of resources and dollars so it is important to consider the best return for your investments.

2024 Trends

6. Sustainability must be on your to do list

We see sustainability in three buckets:

  1. Reducing food waste
  2. Packaging solutions
  3. Reducing your environmental footprint

Retailers are all over this because consumers and regulators are demanding it. This has been on the radar long enough; you should be able to show progress and illustrate how it is part of your value proposition.

Understand regulators

You should read the Environment Climate Change Canada (ECCC) pollution prevention (P2) planning notice As the document states, “The P2 Notice would set requirements for Canada’s largest grocery retailers to prepare and implement a pollution prevention plan (P2 plan), with an aim towards zero plastic waste from primary food plastic packaging.” This is a significant change that is being mandated.

There are many sections and details to absorb. As an example, we will focus on the section that outlines the plan for fresh fruit and vegetables which is 4.4 Objectives, targets and timelines. In this section under Risk Management is the following goal:

Objective 2

Fresh fruits and vegetables are distributed and sold in bulk and/or in plastic-free packaging


  • 75% by 2026
  • 95% by 2028

In other words, by 2026, 75% of produce sold in large retailers will need to be in bulk or plastic free packaging. By 2028, 95% of produce sold in large retailers will need to be in bulk or plastic free packaging. This is huge change in a short period of time. Not to mention as growers and packers are dealing with inflation and other challenges.

This is not final yet and we will see more from ECCC after they review input from industry and other stakeholders. The pace of change is one area where many people are concerned. It will be interesting to see if Environment Climate Change Canada will listen and implement a less aggressive timeline.

European countries such as Germany and France have been aggressive with forcing the shift away from single use plastic. You might find solutions to explore in these markets. Regardless of where you find it, sustainability needs to be a part of your packaging review.

Understand customers

Every major retailer has a plan for sustainability. They have initiatives they are trying to meet or exceed to prove to consumers and regulators that they are doing something. You can find a lot of these online. Here are a few examples but you should be familiar with the plans for all of your customers.

These initiatives can help you build relationships. When you know where they are trying to go you can illustrate your initiatives that help them get there.

Understand consumers

This is one reason it is so important to know your target market. How focused are they on sustainability and what does it look like to them? Older consumers have a different perspective than younger ones. You probably have to tell older consumers whereas younger consumers might be doing more of their own research.

When you are making progress, this can be a valuable component of your value proposition. It should be clear to people what you have accomplished. Some people might only buy in compostable packaging or others will pick up a product produced with renewable energy. For example, Alive kombucha in N.B. is produced in a facility operated with solar power.

It is time to show results

We are far enough down this road now you really need to show results. If this is an important issue to your target market you should let them know what you have accomplished and how it helps.

Share your initiatives and results with your customers. You never know they might be looking to focus some extra opportunities for brands that are making a difference. It does not always have to be about item and price.

Update your website, social media and other communication to help get the word out about the changes you are making. This should be a good news story!


SKUFood Recipes for Success Podcast

We are super excited to announce we have launched our SKUFood Recipes for Success podcast. We have been working on this project for a while and it is finally ready to share with all of you. Our intention is to share the stories of food businesses and others in the value chain while also providing insights that are interesting and helpful to people in the food and beverage industry.

We are fortunate to receive the support of FCC to make this happen. If you would like to be a guest on SKUFood Recipes for Success just let us know. Huge thanks to Susan Sipos for making this happen. I have the easy job, I just show up and talk to people!

Listen and subscribe where ever you get your podcasts.

Where is Peter Speaking?

Significant investment in supply management sectors

If you are in a supply managed sector you might benefit from part of the $89M in funding that was announced. If you are not in a supply managed sector you might be looking for support.

We do need to continue to invest in our food supply system. We need to invest at every stage of the value chain to ensure we have a sustainable viable food supply system.

We are excited to be working on this program with Food and Beverage Manitoba. Retailer's local programs are great opportunities for processors who can take advantage of their space on the shelf. This virtual and in-person program will help processors implement processes to maximize the opportunity they get in the store.

When we had an FCC Winning in retail session in Winnipeg there were a lot of requests to do another session about distribution. This is a challenging component of any food and beverage business. Join us for an informative day where we will explore how to find, work with and benefit from a distributor. If you are able to join us in Winnipeg February 15th it will be a great day!