Sustainability is getting centre stage in the food and beverage sectors with a new online portal equipped with tools to help companies develop and improve their sustainability practices.
The result of almost four years of research and testing, and half a million dollars in funding, the Online Sustainability Portal (www.provisioncoalition.com) was launched last week by Provision Coalition, a sustainability advocate comprised of 11 member associations representing food and beverage manufacturers and suppliers across Canada.
Cher Mereweather, executive director of the coalition said food and beverage manufacturers across the country are making “remarkable progress” toward sustainable production. But meeting customer expectations can still be challenging, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses. “That’s what’s so exciting about the Online Sustainability Portal—it provides the tools and resources needed to tackle these challenges,” she said.
For grocers, Mereweather says these tools and resources can help manufactures put processes in place so they can provide more transparency around their sustainable practices. “We’re seeing more and more information requirements around how products are manufactured and where raw materials are coming from,” she said. “This can allow to feed grocers the information they are looking for.”
Several grocers were also on the initial working group that helped develop the portal. “We really got their input from the get-go to see what would be of value to them,” said Mereweather.
The portal is free for manufacturers, and up until November 1, 2013, grocers and other stakeholders can register and explore it for 30 days, after which there is an annual membership fee of $300.
Some of the tools and resources available in the portal include a step-by-step guide to integrating sustainability, as well as an interactive survey that helps companies identify strengths and gaps in their facilities or performance. There’s also a tool that helps users find what environmental regulations apply to them and if their facilities are in compliance
As one of last year’s winners of Canadian Grocer’s Generation Next Award, Mereweather says the portal is the “next logical step for sustainability” in the food and beverage sector. “Everything we have been working on and all the tools we have built are now sitting in this portal,” she said. “Eventually we hope to have the entire value chain using the portal for their sustainability needs.”