How Ingredient and Solution Providers Can Navigate Overwhelm and Win at Sustainability Data

May 22, 2024
How Ingredient and Solution Providers Can Navigate Overwhelm and Win at Sustainability Data

The surge in sustainability survey requests received by food industry ingredient and solution providers has left many companies with stretched resources and overwhelmed teams.

Food brands, restaurants, and retailers face increased pressure to meet stringent climate disclosure regulations and achieve ambitious decarbonization targets. Those companies then need to rely heavily on their suppliers for detailed product-level carbon footprint data, far more granular than ever before.

For many suppliers, the cost and workload associated with responding to these surveys have become unmanageable. Decision makers are faced with the challenge of how to balance resources and maintain customer satisfaction and sales relationships by gathering data and responding to the surveys, along with strategizing and reducing their own supply chain impacts.

Many suppliers lack the necessary data. While some have commissioned Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) for individual products, the time and cost required to conduct and update these assessments make them an unsustainable solution. Even when suppliers submit data, they often receive little feedback and miss out on collaborative opportunities.

At HowGood, we partner with food companies across every stage of the value chain. Our interactions with supplier partners have provided insights into effective strategies for managing the growing demand for sustainability data.

With those real-life insights as guidance, we created a comprehensive resource guide to help suppliers streamline processes, conserve resources, automate carbon reporting, and leverage ESG metrics to drive sales growth.

Sustainability surveys in the food industry: How we got here

The challenges faced by suppliers in emissions reporting aren’t new, however the exponential increase in data requests has exacerbated these issues.

This surge is driven by new regulations and a heightened need for ESG accountability. With 87% of a food company’s impact typically originating from its supply chain, understanding upstream impacts is crucial, hence the need for detailed supplier data.

Historically, suppliers have struggled with data scarcity, complex accounting, and the lack of standardized global methodologies, leading to inconsistencies in how their product impact appears to customers. Individual customer requests tailored to specific reporting structures result in a disproportionate amount of time spent managing data requests, turning previously barely-manageable workloads into burnout.

Suppliers have also expressed frustration with the single-use nature of their data submissions. They often provide data to one customer and never hear back about its usage. This extractive process leaves them constantly fielding information requests with little to no return.

Automate sustainability data reporting

Recognizing these frustrations, suppliers are now seeking solutions that offer transparency, efficiency, and collaboration. They’re seeking systems that provide dynamic product carbon footprints over static LCAs, ways to automate reporting for multiple customers, and face-time for constructive engagement with formulators and procurement teams—all while saving time and money.

Suppliers who have embraced automated sustainability reporting are excited about the potential to streamline data gathering and sharing processes. They’re discovering new ways to leverage their data for genuine marketing and sales advantages.

Download the toolkit

To support suppliers in this journey, we’ve compiled the best practices and strategies shared by our partners into a practical toolkit. This guide is designed to help you navigate the complexities of sustainability reporting, automate processes, and maximize the value of your data.

Access the toolkit now to streamline your sustainability reporting and turn your data into a powerful tool for growth.

Download the toolkit