In a recent report published by NPD Recruiting ‘foresight’ was identified as the single most critical skill for success in the 21st century. Foresight enables leaders to “navigate change, make good decisions, and take action now to create a better future”. Today, industry leaders hoping to pull out of the economic slump have begun to look forward; surveying experts, utilizing computer modeling, and exploring simulations to identify the ‘Next Big Trend’. One thing has become certain for leaders: whatever the ‘next big trend’, a more sustainable and practical approach to business operations is key.
Searching for new trends has leaders pursuing sustainable alternatives at the manufacturing level, utilizing new technologies at the retail level, and grasping new consumer audiences from various marketing standpoints. Regardless of where trends lie on the production or marketing ladders, a growing number of leaders are making conscious efforts to exercise their ‘foresight caps’ to adapt to this era of sustainable change.
Leaders in the Food/CPG industries execute sustainability initiatives on a day-to-day basis. In recent interviews with Campbell’s, Ahold, and Kraft, Paragon learned about how Heads of Sustainability are taking their own, authentic approaches to pursuing quarterly, annual, and long-term goals.
Campbell’s Head of Sustainability, Dave Stangis, recently described the execution of his company’s overarching sustainability goals in terms of four matrices: environmental sustainability, customer/consumer promise, and workplace and community impact. At Campbell’s, environmental sustainability
efforts are focused heavily on energy, water, waste, and agriculture. Stangis’s sustainability team commits to regular corporate and public sustainability
reports. To gain support from leaders and shareholders, Stangis believes
transparency about his sector’s sustainability progress is crucial. In today’s
tight economy, corporations have buckled down on departmental spending/funding. Stangis’s straight shooting technique has won him the backing of many bystanders in the business.
VP of Corporate Sustainability at Ahold USA, Harriet Hentges, “conducts business to have minimum negative impact and maximum positive impact”. Her team focuses on making good decisions in sourcing, packaging, and distribution. For example, in sourcing commodities for produce such as soy and palm oil, Harriet supports vendors who do not turn to deforestation for production of such goods as a result of increases in demand and pricing. Food waste and consumer knowledge are also fundamental areas Harriet’s team strive to impact. This September, Ahold, lead by Harriet’s team, will host the company’s first ‘Sustainability Summit’. Working with Paragon, Ahold is reaching out to company leaders about what can and should be done to forge a more viable future for Food/CPG industry businesses. Workshops, speakers, and most importantly, open communication, are planned for the big event. To read more about what Harriet and Ahold are doing globally to meet the company’s sustainability goals, click here.
Finally, VP of Sustainability at Kraft, Steve Yucknut, shares stories of how his team has helped delve into a more sustainable future in the Food/CPG space. Focus on recyclable materials, less waste, and new technologies are all primary regions of focus for this seasoned executive. The work he supports with renewable resources for the production of consumer goods such as Philadelphia Cream Cheese, as well as his team’s support to create ‘greener’, more sustainable solutions in other manufactured goods conveys overall passion and innovative spirit.
Another company making strides in manufacturing and retail sustainability is Kroger. Since 2009, “Kroger’s manufacturing plants have reduced the amount of waste sent to landfills by 30%…a 22 million pound reduction”. Also, Kroger has “improved bagging techniques and increased use of reusable bags to save an additional 159 million plastic bags”. This past year, Kroger completed its first wind energy project, installing two wind turbines at one of the company’s major dairy factories. The turbines will supply 25% of the dairy’s annual electricity needs…enough power to produce six millions gallons of ice cream for one year! If you’re a Sustainability leader and you’re feeling comfortable at this point, kudos to you for keeping up with the pace of this emerging ‘business path’. If you’re sweating bullets on the other hand, don’t worry. Campbell’s, Kroger, Ahold, and Kraft each have their own unique corporate sustainability goals…and plans to reach those goals. As Dave Stangis of Campbell’s mentioned in his interview, sustainability efforts across companies are dependent on a number of factors including corporate missions and location in the company’s value chain; so make your efforts your own, tailor them to your company’s mission, but do something that’ll impress even the toughest critic: your boss. Just remember: use the resources you’re given (work members, researchers, funding, etc.) wisely, and have a vision. Pursue sustainability in a ‘fresh’, ‘21st century way’, who knows, you might set off the next big ‘green’ trend and change the sustainable world!
You can also listen to the complete interviews that Paragon President Janice Krupic and associate Kevin Sulaiman conducted with Steve Yucknut, VP of Sustainability at Kraft as well as an interview with Dave Stangis, Campbell’s Head of Sustainability below.
Dave Stangis Interview
Steve Yucknut Interview
Kevin Sulaiman, Marketing Associate
Paragon Leadership International