Sustainability Trends Driving Change In The Food And Beverage Industry

Sustainability is by far one of the hottest buzzwords of the century, along with the suite of terms attached to it such as recycle, upcycle, biodegradable, carbon neutral, organic, zero waste, eco-friendly, greenwashing and the list can go on. The concept implies meeting people’s current needs while also ensuring the health and well-being of future generations.

In recent years, sustainability has become an integral part of our lives, changing perceptions and shaping our modern culture. The growing concerns around climate change and the negative impact of human activities on natural systems and the environment have quickly turned sustainability into a priority across all industry fields and sectors. Manufacturers and retailers in every domain are feeling the pressure to address these concerns and integrate sustainability into their operations. However, no other industry has been quite as impacted by the sustainability movement as the food and beverage industry.

An industry prime for sustainability disruption

According to a 2021 study conducted by a team led by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the food industry is responsible for producing one-third of the global greenhouse gas emissions, which makes it a primary target for decarbonization campaigns.

Also, F&B companies are now catering to a new generation of environmentally conscious consumers who prioritize quality over quantity and want to know exactly what they put on their plates, where it comes from and how it got to them. This would be regarding companies like ofi that embrace fair-trade practices and provide organic and ethically sourced products.

As a result, sustainability has become top of mind for companies and organizations activating in the food and beverage industry. But sustainability in this sector has also evolved a lot over the years and continues to adapt to meet stakeholders’ ever-changing needs and demands. So, let’s take a look at the sustainability trends that are shaping the food and beverage industry at the moment and helping companies stay ahead of the curve.

Food upcycling

One of the biggest problems in the food and beverage industry is represented by the huge amounts of food that go to waste and end up in landfills, due to a variety of factors such as unfavorable weather conditions, operational issues, or overproduction. Food waste has massive implications for world hunger and climate change, and thus it’s a challenge that F&B companies are constantly struggling to tackle. 

In an effort to reduce food waste, many brands have started innovating with leftover ingredients that would have otherwise been thrown out to create new food products that are fit for consumption. Turning waste into food is a trend that is rapidly gaining ground in the sector and apart from its eco-friendly benefits can result in an additional revenue stream for companies.

Regenerative agriculture

Regenerative agriculture has been around for a while aiming to restore and maintain the health of the soil, natural environments and ecosystems. The concept relies on a variety of practices such as no-till farming, mixed crop rotation, using compost and manure, rotational grazing and so on that many food providers have jumped on board with in recent years.

However, until not so long ago, it was difficult for consumers to check the truthfulness of the claims and commitments made by these companies, whether it was a nuts producer or a dairy farm. But things are starting to change now with the introduction of new standards and certifications in the area such as Regenerative Organic Alliance’s Regenerative Organic Label.

Edible packaging

Food packaging waste that is not recycled or composted also represents a major environmental issue, contributing to pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, ecosystem disruption, and resource depletion. The food industry produces over 260 million tons of plastic packaging every year, out of which only 9% is being recycled.

Edible packaging provides an innovative solution in this regard. An increasing number of food companies are choosing to switch from conventional packaging materials to sustainable alternatives made from seaweed, soy, and other edible materials, and consumers seem to welcome the idea. 


Differentiating between environmentally responsible brands that provide organic and ethically sourced products and conventional companies required consumers to go down the research rabbit hole. To make things easier for buyers, food manufacturers and retailers have started resorting to environmental food labelling

Eco-labels are a simple and effective solution for brands to communicate the environmental impact of their products and provide consumers with all the information they want to know about the foods they’re buying, so they can make more informed purchase decisions.

Alternative grains

In our modern society, we have become reliant on four main crops: wheat, maize, rice and soya beans. However, there are many other grains, or pseudo-grains to be more specific, that humans have used since ancient times such as millet, wheat bulgur, red quinoa, sorghum, barley, amaranth, etc. which people have forgotten about.

These ancient grains as they’re often called have been experiencing a revival lately due to their superior nutritional characteristics and rising global demand, so we’re bound to see them more often in shops and on the ingredient list of food products. 

Lab-grown meat

Lab-grown meat or cell-based meat might sound like something out of a sci-fi movie but is in fact a very real practice that promises to become a game changer in intense livestock farming and put an end to the unethical practices that can exist in this sector.

This is a form of cellular agriculture that implies creating real meat in vitro by culturing animal cells with the help of tissue engineering techniques. While the technology is still new it’s already showing a lot of potential. 

Final thoughts

Keeping up with sustainability demands and addressing conflicting pressures in the food and beverage industry is definitely not an easy feat. However, these emerging trends prove that sustainability is an achievable endeavor in the sector and ongoing tech advances provide the promise of creating a more efficient and responsible food system in the future.


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