Ontario Agriculture

The network for agriculture in Ontario, Canada

Finding value in carbon footprints and environmental labelling

Synthesis Agri-Food Insights
February, 2010

Finding value in carbon footprints and environmental labelling

The Vancouver 2010 Olympics have been touted as the most "green" games ever; in fact, they are the first Olympic Games ever to actively develop a carbon management program to reduce and offset its emissions. This includes using "clean" hydroelectric power, clustering event venues to lessen travel, re-using heat energy from ice refrigeration to heat other buildings and collecting rainwater.

In Sweden , a fast-food chain has added environmental labeling to its food products. Max Burger is displaying the carbon footprint of all of the food items on its menu, a move that is reported to be going over well with consumers in the environmentally-conscious Scandinavian nation.

This growing desire for "greening" our lifestyles can present opportunities for the agri-food industry and its time to take advantage of those possibilities, says Rob Hannam, President of Synthesis Agri-Food Consulting.

"Consumers are increasingly starting to care about sustainability and although it may require a bit of a shift in thinking on the part of our sector, I definitely see this as a trend that is going to keep growing," says Hannam. "Our planet is a non-renewable resource and we all have a role to play in nurturing and protecting it."

A recent Farm Credit Canada report looks at green economics - integrating environmental considerations and consumer needs into business models - and different ways agriculture and agri-business can find value in going green.

It is important, according to the report, to put a value to green initiatives for your business by re-thinking inputs (water, energy, feedstocks/ingredients), operations (design, marketing, transportation) and outputs (products, services, emissions, packaging, waste).

Water, for example, is one of the most-used resources in agri-food and as droughts and water shortages are increasingly starting to pose problems, recycling and conservation is becoming a necessity.

Biomass - like re-using food or farm waste products or growing plants like miscanthus specifically for energy- can be an alternate source of energy. Transportation opportunities for improvement include local supply chains or environmentally friendly options like hybrid vehicles.

New technologies are being invented constantly with a view to lessening environmental impacts, and green chemistry - replacing harmful substances used in manufacturing processes with ones derived from renewable resources - is providing alternatives in plastics, crop protection and pharmaceuticals.

But despite the many possibilities and opportunities, Hannam has a caution for anyone seeking to build and promote a business on environmental labeling.

"Consumers are becoming skeptical of empty promises of environmental friendliness," he says. "If you're going to make claims of environmental responsibility, you better be able to back them up if you want your brand and your reputation to stand for something and to be valued by your customers."

Insights - so what does this mean?

It's a growing trend - Consumers are starting to look for eco-friendly alternatives in many aspects of their daily lives as their environmental awareness increases. Being a leader in this area and telling the world about it can help attract and keep customers.

Adopt a green approach - Going green may require a change in the way we look at our farm and food businesses. Some changes will be obvious, like re-using waste products or recycling water, because they save or make money. Other changes may require up-front investment so we need to re-think how we do business. Organizations should embrace "green" or "sustainability" as a part of their culture similar to the way a manufacturing operation embraces safety as a part of their culture.

It's the right thing to do - Transitioning to greener practices may mean incurring additional upfront costs and while that investment does not come with a guarantee of increased profitability, it is the right thing to do. Being environmentally conscious is part of our larger societal responsibility to ourselves and future generations.

Sincerely,

The Synthesis Agri-Food Consulting Team

Synthesis Agri-Food Consulting

"Our Passion is Problem Solving"

Views: 31

Comment

You need to be a member of Ontario Agriculture to add comments!

Join Ontario Agriculture

Agriculture Headlines from Farms.com Canada East News - click on title for full story

Saskatchewan Crop Conditions Up from a Year Ago

The first Saskatchewan crop condition ratings for the 2024 growing season are mostly up from a year ago, although the scope of improvement is variable. The weekly provincial crop report on Thursday pegged this year’s spring wheat crop at 87% good to excellent as of Monday, up a relatively modest 6 points from a year earlier, while the oat and barley ratings were 2 and 5 points higher, respectively, at 87% good to excellent for both. At 78% good to excellent, the condition of the canola crop was just a single point above a year ago. On the other hand, the condition of the durum crop was rated 93% good to excellent as of Monday, an increase of 21 points from a year ago, while the lentil crop was 15 points better at 90% and the chickpea crop a major 31 points higher at 95%. Gains for other crops fell somewhere in between. At 91% good to excellent, the condition of the flax crop was up 8 points on the year, with mustard up 14 points to 88%, and peas up 9 points to 91%. The canary cro

New Grading Changes Coming for the 2024-25 Crop Year

The Canadian Grain Commission has announced new grading changes for the upcoming 2024-25 crop year that it says will better meet the needs of the grain sector in Canada and grain buyers around the world. Among the changes are new variety designation lists for food barley, and updates to the assessment of seed coat discolouration in soybeans. According to a CGC release, food barley varieties are unique and different from malting or feed barley varieties due to the distinct quality features desired for food, such as high beta-glucans. And to ensure Canadian producers and the agriculture sector can realize the benefits of developing and growing these varieties, the CGC is creating variety designation lists for Barley, Canada Eastern Food, which will take effect on July 1, 2024, and Barley, Canada Western Food, which will take effect on Aug. 1, 2024. Meanwhile, as part of the CGC grain grading modernization project, the official Grain Grading Guide will be updated to clarify the asse

Alberta Seeding Complete; Crop Emergence on Track with Average

The final push was delayed by rain in some parts of the province last week, but Alberta seeding is virtually now complete.  Friday’s crop showed the planting of Alberta major crops (spring wheat, oats, barley, canola, and peas) at 99.6% complete as of Tuesday, up a few points from a week earlier and in line with the five- and 10-year averages of 99.4% and 98.7%.  The report said final seeding efforts in the Central, North East, and North West regions were slowed by rain that was accompanied by persistent strong winds that led to an overall reduction in surface soil moisture in all areas but the Peace Region.   Regardless, crop growth is off to a good start, with the South Region in need of timely rains while the rest of the province needs warmer temperatures, the report said.  The emergence of major crops across the province is reported at 86%, which matches both the 5- and 10-year averages. Regionally, emergence of major crops is behind the historical average in the South and Nort

Automation, robotics helping farmers strengthen food security

B.C. farmers are accessing new technology through federal and provincial government funding to grow their businesses and increase production to help strengthen food security in the province.

© 2024   Created by Darren Marsland.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service