Clothier said there was a myth among manufacturers that operating in an environmentally responsible way would cost more. But, the dairy firm’s experience was that a low-carbon operation meant less costs.
“Sustainability makes really good business sense – it does save costs,” Clothier said, speaking at the Food and Drink Federation’s Ensuring Sustainable Supply Chain convention in London on November 23.
Wyke Farms had become obsessed with lean manufacturing – eliminating waste to cut costs – Clothier said. “One thing we realised fairly quickly was that anything we did to lower cost, impacted in a positive way on the environment.
“So as a team, we got together and we thought ‘well, if we consciously decided that we want to be a more environmentally responsible business, and we approached lean manufacture from that end, what savings would that then yield?’”
The cost savings were ‘staggering’
He said the cost savings were “staggering”. By approaching business in a low-carbon way, the company made “a whole load of savings”.
Wyke Farms now has a number of environmental schemes designed to reduce costs, including using livestock and dairy waste, and organic food sources for bio-digestion. For more information on Wyke Farms’s low-carbon schemes, listen to the exclusive FoodManufacture.co.uk interview above.
These initiatives led to Wyke Farms winning the Environmental initiative award at this year’s Food Manufacture Excellence Awards.
Clothier said: “We’ve also found out there are commercial alternatives to fossil fuels that stand up well on a cost-for-cost basis. I genuinely believe the future of energy can be found on farms around the whole of the UK, and not necessarily nuclear reactors.” The dairy company uses renewable sources of energy – including wind and natural gas from organic waste – in the day-to-day running of business.
‘Commercial alternatives to fossil fuels’
In terms of sales, the environmental backbone of the company had a positive effect on shoppers, claimed Clothier. He said people were shopping in a more environmental way, and they’re sharing that information in a way that they’d never done so before – on social media.
“93% of shoppers have bought a ‘green’ product in the last month, and that was up from about 60% last year,” he said. “There’s real momentum within food retail and grocery for people to look for things like the ‘recyclable’ mark and for products they regard as green.
“I believe sustainability and how we address it, without losing competitiveness, is going to be the biggest challenge for food businesses in the next 10 years.”