The Next Frontier for Sustainable Ingredients

June 29, 2018

Food and Beverage companies have historically done an admirable job pushing ingredient manufacturers to adopt more rigorous sustainability and sourcing standards. This is especially true when it comes to high profile ingredients such as cocoa, palm oil, almonds, and others that appear high up on the ingredient list. In most instances, these positive changes were the result of increased pressure from advocacy and regulatory groups driving food companies to make changes.

One example is palm oil, the most -widely consumed vegetable oil on the planet. Palm oil is found in about half of all packaged products sold in supermarkets. When it was discovered that harvesting palm oil was causing mass deforestation throughout Indonesia and other tropical locations, non-profits united together to pressure companies to change their sourcing protocols. Now, with the efforts of the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (R.S.P.O.) and other global groups, about 21 percent of the global supply is sustainably sourced, and continues to grow today.

Don’t expect the trend toward sustainable ingredients to slow anytime soon. More than ever, consumers are demanding companies have higher ethical standards, and develop products that are more sustainable for the earth. In fact, a 2015 global survey by Nielsen found that 66 percent of respondents were willing to pay more for sustainably produced goods.

One company leading the charge is Danone, the French-based global food company. They have set ambitious targets to reduce the carbon emissions of their products, and since 2007 have achieved a 50.1 percent reduction in greenhouse gases. Instead of being content, they continue to build on their progress. They have adopted rigorous sustainability requirements for all supply chain partners and increased their target reduction of greenhouse gases by an additional 50 percent by the year 2030.

Danone isn’t alone in their ambitions to develop more sustainable products. MarsNestle, and countless other food and beverage companies have outlined similar ambitious sustainability targets.

If food and beverage companies expect to achieve these ambitious targets, they will have to look beyond the high-profile ingredients and obvious fixes. It will require them to think bigger. They will have to go deeper into the supply chain and further down the ingredient list to ensure that every ingredient is made as sustainable as possible.

Fortunately, there is a new wave of companies coming on line, who are producing ingredients in ways that are better for the planet.

At Comet Biorefining, we have developed a technology that allows us to convert leftover agricultural residues from farms, like corn stalks and wheat straw, into high quality, sustainable ingredients for the food and beverage industry. Our technology allows us to utilize a farm’s entire harvest, minimizing waste at the farm and offsetting the need to plant additional crops to make ingredients. By using our ingredients, food and beverage companies help improve the economics of farms, support regenerative agricultural practices, and improve the sustainability of their end products.

One Comet product is non-GMO Dextrose (95DE). This product is a simple sugar that can be used for fermentation and to help improve the coloring and texture of baked goods, nutrition bars, as well as other finished foods and beverages. Our Dextrose is indistinguishable from our competitors with the exception that it emits 64 percent less greenhouse gases over its lifecycle. This means companies can achieve big sustainability gains without compromising the quality of their products.

The food and beverage industry has come a long way and should be applauded for making progress on developing a more sustainable ingredient supply chain and foods with a lighter impact on our earth. However, to achieve greater reductions in lifecycle emissions, and further improve the sustainability of our entire food system, it is time food companies go deeper into the supply chain, engage with next generation of ingredient companies, and demand every ingredient in their products are made with the earth’s interest in mind.

The next wave of sustainability gains will not come easy. But luckily the next frontier for sustainable ingredients has arrived to help food and beverage companies reach their targets.