By Manish Aggarwal
The FMCG market has always been closely connected to its consumers and their diverse choices; hence, a long-term shift in consumers’ habits and choices is bound to have a definite impact. For a while, new-age consumers have been facing extreme climatic conditions and changes, which have affected their purchasing habits and made them more careful. They have become sustainability advocates to protect the environment and their purchases are prime examples of their careful consideration of making eco-friendly choices in every sphere of their lives.
Sustainability has become the top priority for brands and consumers. No wonder the FMCG sector, responsible for over one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions, is evolving rapidly to include sustainable practices in its procedures and let the consumer know of the change. The best effect of this transformation is that the environment is actually showing changes.
Thus, some primary sustainability movements we are observing in the sector include: –
- Sustainable Sourcing – FMCG companies are making active efforts to use eco-friendly ingredients from sustainable sources for manufacturing today. Certain brands are shifting from plastic inner separators to sustainable options such as paper, plant-based alternatives such as certain leaves and bamboo, etc. They are also more forthcoming in recycling non-eco-friendly materials present in their supply chains to minimise waste.
- Sustainable Packaging – Packaging, especially plastic packaging, has been a bane of the environment and now of the industry as well. To reduce their carbon impact, companies have to necessarily reduce their plastic waste. So, fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables are being delivered in plant- or paper-based wrappers or offered in reusable cloth bags. Switching to biodegradable, reusable packing alternatives is a great zero-waste option. As it is, in case they forget to carry their own bags, consumers are ready to spend extra to purchase cloth carry-bags at stores. Another back-to-the-roots alternative is to facilitate the use of refillable containers or allow them to opt for the bring-your-own-cup option. This way, consumers too feel great about being able to contribute more in lessening the mounting burden of single-use containers in landfills.
- Efficient use of Energy – Replacing traditional incandescent bulbs with LED lights is already a gold standard in the industry as energy consumption is reduced by approximately 40%. The next big shift will be to renewable energy for sustainable manufacturing and distributing procedures. Company-wise commitment to using only zero-carbon electric vehicles by a certain date is becoming more common as is investing in dry factories with closed-loop water systems. Sustainability is now at the heart of the retail business strategies and the sector is taking more steps every day towards actively reducing environmental footprints, in every way possible.
- Caring for the Environment – Consumers are progressively more aware today of the sustainability labels on products and what values they convey. So, they are keen on supporting companies that show that they care for the ecology and enthusiastically contribute toward it. So, organisations that are active in the sustainability sphere by supporting environmental causes and speaking about it on their social media platforms and in advertisements are buying the trust of consumers as well as their mindshare. Today, it’s as essential to choose the path of sustainability as it is to be seen to do so.
The FMCG sector is heavily dependent on consumer tastes but this consumer-led shift is leading companies and brands to work gradually toward a sustainable environment. While the transformation has to be gradual and demands change from the bottom up, it is important since it will ensure that we will all live in a more harmonious milieu in the future.
(By Manish Aggarwal, Director, Bikano, Bikanervala Foods)