Food and beverage companies risk missing out on industry target to cut carbon emissions, new research suggests

Reducing carbon emissions has become an area of ​​focus in the restaurant business, spotlighting plant-based dishes. / Photo: Shutterstock

Leading Western food and beverage companies are missing the mark on their carbon reduction targets, according to a new study published by consultancy AlixPartners.

Research suggests Western food and beverage companies with the largest revenues are likely to fall within 34% of the industry-wide carbon reduction target set by the Science Based Target initiative , a collaborative effort of organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund and the United Nations Global Compact.

This target of reducing global carbon emissions by 37.6% between 2019 and 2030 is what the initiative says industry would demand to ensure the Earth’s temperature does not rise by more than 1.5 degree Celsius.

The AlixPartners study, titled “Net Zero: Synchronizing Ambition with Results Across the Consumer Packaged Goods Value Chain,” analyzed the carbon emissions commitments of 235 companies across the food and beverage sector in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and the United States. Additionally, the study interviewed 200 sustainability and operations managers.

Through this process, it found that current carbon emissions commitments are too low to meet the industry’s global target.

“AlixPartners estimates that, even if all these commitments are met, companies will still have reduced their carbon emissions by only 29% between 2019 and 2030”, specifies the firm in a press release.

The research implies that even reaching that 29% is unlikely as food and beverage executives lack confidence in their ability to reduce carbon emissions. Their survey found that only 49% of suppliers, 36% of manufacturers and 31% of retailers said they were very confident in achieving their own carbon reduction targets.

“Manufacturers, suppliers and retailers must look across their entire value chains to understand and exert influence all the way to the beginning of those chains, as well as downstream to the end consumer, if they are to make progress. really exceptional on that front,” said Randy Burt, general manager of the consumer products practice at AlixPartners.

In order to reach the 38% goal, the researchers called for quick action. “If the industry is to meet its carbon reduction targets by 2030, the clock is ticking,” said Andy Searle, general manager of the consumer products practice at AlixPartners. “Consumer products companies need to figure out what they need to do and who within their company needs to act in the next 12 months and then in the next 24 months.”

Reducing carbon emissions has become a primary goal for many restaurant brands as consumers and other stakeholders push for more environmentally friendly operations. McDonald’sfor example, has committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

As part of its sustainability efforts, Panera Bread offers low-carbon options on menus, while the Just Salad chain has taken this type of initiative a step further by labeling each item on the menu with its footprint. respective carbon.

Additionally, KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell have partnered with Beyond Meat to offer plant-based protein options. A survey conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) found that 65% of respondents have tried plant-based proteins and 33% of respondents cited environmental benefits as a reason for their choice.

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