Sustainability solutions: How the region’s food and nutrition industry is stepping up to the plate

Asia’s consumers are increasingly demanding sustainable and ethical food and nutrition solutions. Here we provide four recent examples that show how the region’s food and nutrition industry is striving to deliver.

New subscription service with carton recycling option in Philippines

Nestle Philippines has launched a Ready-To-Drink (RTD) Baon Subscription service which provides consumers with the option to return the packaging of delivered products to the company for recycling. Launched in partnership with the goodfood.ph e-commerce website, the subscription service is said to be the ‘first ever’ of its kind in the country and is currently only available on a monthly basis.

Consumers with a monthly subscription will get products delivered once a month, and subscribers may can return their used beverage cartons. Although there is no minimum order for the subscription, but Nestle has put into place four Ready-to-Drink plan options for consumers to choose from. Although the carton-return is optional, Nestle Philippines ‘highly encourages’ consumers to return cartons for recycling as much can be done with this recycled packaging.  

Cocoa sustainability a top target in Indonesia

Cargill is aiming to advance the digital transparency and traceability capabilities in its major Asian supplier nation of Indonesia, in an effort to augment both financial and physical transparency in the region. The company operates cocoa plantations in Indonesia, Brazil, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

According to the 2017/2018 Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate Sustainability Report, over half of all Cargill’s Indonesian farmers had already switched to digital payment systems for financial transparency. Digital payment systems allow for secure and transparent movement of funds. They also provide farmers with almost immediate access to funds, so they can reinvest in their operations, households and communities.

In Indonesia, 55% of all farmers now receive premium payments through direct bank transfer. In terms of physical transparency, the firm is hoping to implement its ‘first-mile’ traceability technology and digital Coop Management System (CMS) in Indonesia. These have already been used to attain 100% cocoa bean traceability from farm-to-factory in Ghana.  

Plant-based potential for better outcomes

Asia and the rest of the globe is very much trending towards plant-based nutrition, driven by sustainability and health factors, according to Pepsi. The firm’s research found that a majority of consumers claim to be increasing plant and/or decreasing animal intake, and half [the surveyed participants] were doing both. 

Importantly, many of these consumers do not see this as a fleeting trend, but more as a life change that will help in maintaining good health from now until old age. In addition, most of these consumers who consume plant-based products do not see themselves as vegetarians. As such, labelling a product as vegetarian instead of plant-based may not gain appeal.  

Tapping into tech for the environment

Thailand food manufacturing giant Charoen Pokphand Foods (CP Foods) has committed to achieve 100% sustainable plastic packaging in all its local units by 2025, with the aid of new technology and a packaging optimisation framework. This is aimed to complement the group’s sustainable packaging policy, where it has already committed to 100% of its plastic packaging being made of sustainable materials by 2025. 

The company also aims to achieve the same for its overseas operations by the year 2030. Technology is expected to play a major role in CP Foods’ efforts. It is the first company in Thailand to use Poly Lactic Acid (PLA), a natural biodegradable plastic substitute, to pack its fresh meats. CP Foods has also launched its Research and Development Centre, which will look at innovating packaging for the company, as well as provide package design solutions and other forms of technical assistance. 

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