World Food Day article published on 16th October 2013 by Media Planet
Dr Nigel Davies, Manufacturing and Sustainability Director at Muntons discusses the need to raise awareness of sustainability issues and how they are working hard to help.
How do you get people interested?
There is a school of thought that says we should not ‘dumb down’ the sustainability issues. I disagree. By demystifying the debate and concentrating on a few key aspects of sustainability the chance of engaging people is increased.
How do you get the message across to youngsters?
I presented 1,000 teenagers in Suffolk with a malted ingredient story that involved substituting cocoa sourced miles away in Ghana with a cocoa replacer called Maltichoc. It’s made of malted ingredients grown within 50 miles of our main malting plant in Suffolk. The carbon footprint of cocoa is around 42,000kgCO2e/tonne product whereas the malted alternative is only 1080kgCO2e/tonne.
What was their reaction?
At first they not that interested, but they were impressed as soon as they tasted it. Not only did it taste good, but it was made with local ingredients reducing its carbon footprint. It’s also cheaper and improves the moisture retention and overall colour hue.
How do you simplify the debate for farmers?
By asking farmers who produce malting barley just nine questions, they quickly realise over 60% of the malting barley footprint is attributable to farming production of which 80% is linked with production and use of nitrogen fertiliser.
What are major areas to reduce farmers’ footprints?
Two main areas for farmers to be given the tools to minimise carbon are: 1) less carbon intensive production of conventional fertilisers, 2) improved understanding of alternate fertilisers and their impact on soil structure and nitrous emissions.
What are the commercial arguments?
There is a clear business case for removing cost and decreasing environmental impact. If that supports a reduction in climate change that’s good news but even if we don’t see the radical changes predicted we will have make supply chains more cost-effective.
Can it be a marketing advantage?
The sales team used to ask what is Nigel the boffin on about, but now they say they admit we won’t even get through the door of a food manufacturer in five years’ time unless we are engaged in all those ‘boring’ things I was talking about.
Has it helped your business?
Yes, it has won us business. For example, a major brewer was assessing three producers of malted barley as a potential supplier. The only real differentiation between us and the others was we scored higher on the sustainability agenda. They chose us and account for a third of our business now.
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