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5 Facts About Sustainability in the Food and Drink Industry


Want to learn more about how the food and beverage industry is doing their bit for the world? Read our 5 facts about sustainability in the leisure food and drinks industry to get clued up!

According to WWF, every $1 million spent on food by consumers has an ecological footprint of around 1,500 hectares. This is the highest ecological impact, compared to any other industry.

The agricultural sector alone contributes more to greenhouse gases (GHGs) than any other industry, from livestock methane. To add to this, between 80 and 90 percent of water consumption in the US is through the growth of crops.

These shortcomings are promoting fear amongst the public, which means action must be taken. So how are food and beverage sustainability trends changing in order to fit the worldly need for change? Discover, from the experts, exactly how they're doing this by getting your FREE tickets to the show but, for now, let’s take a look at some steps you can take...

Sustainability from wind turbines is one of the ways that sustainability within the food and drink industry can be combated

1. UK Citizens are Making Active Sustainability Choices

British consumers are truly being affected by recent revelations, and are becoming increasingly more conscious of the food and drink they purchase. In fact, last year, the British people spent £8.2 billion on food and drink from ethical sources. This includes Fairtrade, organic, Rainforest Alliance, and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified products.

This trend is being spearheaded by more mature Brits, aged 55 and over. This comes as no surprise, considering the monetary barriers of purchasing ethical food, which younger Brits tend to run into.

Nonetheless, this won’t stop the popularity of purchasing sustainably! A projected expenditure rise of 17 percent, reaching £9.6 billion between 2019-23, is the forecast for the next few years.

2. Big Food and Drink Companies are Also Making Changes

Due to popular demand, numerous big names within the food and drink industry are making a change. The Food and Drink Federation (FDF), which represents 16 percent of the UK’s food and drink sector, have published their ‘Ambition 2025’ document, for a more sustainable future. Companies like McCain, Cadbury, and McVitie's are all part of this ambitious set of goals.

Some of their goals include a 55 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2025, of which a 44 percent reduction has already been achieved. Reducing food waste and water consumption, as well as carbon impact and packaging waste, are also key aims.

Some more specific targets include:

  • Heineken:  by 2020, at least 50 percent of this beer company’s raw materials will be sourced sustainably.

  • Univar: by 2020, Univar aims to source 100 percent of their fruit and vegetables with sustainability in mind.

  • Coca-Cola: their PlantBottle™, created from 30 percent plant based plastics, pioneers their plight for sustainability.

The government is also aiming to get involved, having published their Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food (SSFF). They set out a range of principles to be followed in the next few years, aiming for ultimate sustainability goals:

  • Ensure all consumers have access to healthy and safe food.

  • Support the landowners, to ensure they can make a viable living from their agricultural efforts.

  • Respect the biological limits of natural resources, and operate within them.

  • Aim for, and achieve, high environmental standards, including energy consumption.

  • Support animal welfare in production.

Food waste in one of the biggest issues that the food and drink industry faces daily

3. Approaches to Food Waste Are Changing

One of the top priorities for addressing environmental concerns for sustainability in the food industry is tackling food waste. Within the EU alone, annual food waste is estimated to be around 90 million tonnes!

So, how can companies improve the food waste problems they face? Using WRAP’s 5-5-5 approach, you can transform your companies’ efforts to doing just that.

4. Other Waste Products are Mounting

Food waste isn’t the only problem. Water consumption, transport emissions, and packaging problems are also part of the food industry’s sustainability strategy.


1.8 percent of Europe’s water use comes from the food and drink industry (discover more about this, here). With demand set to increase in the next few years, efforts are being made to manage this consumption.

Firstly, initiatives to address the use of water throughout the life-cycle of a food product is being worked on. The aim is to work on employing tools to measure this usage in order to manage practices. With this, results will become visible, especially in cost saving, helping to promote the adoption of new tactics.


Packaging is one of the key disruptors of the Earth, and with images of plastic in the ocean plaguing the internet, it can be difficult to ignore. Some methods of tackling this within the food industry are using eco-design tools for optimising the environmental performance of products. Additionally, working on reusable options are paramount in order to boost recycling opportunities.


Heavy-goods vehicles are responsible for around 25 percent of CO2 emissions from transportation (read more about this, here). A lot of these vehicles are used in the transportation of food and drink, which is why it’s important to monitor and reduce the environmental impact of this transport. This can be done through collaborating with transport providers, to help improve efficiencies, and source change through vehicle choice.

5. EU Plans for 2030

With all that being said, what are the further plans for reducing waste, and employing sustainability across the food and drink sectors? Well, plans are as follows:

  • Committing to low-carbon, efficient solutions.

  • Promoting sustainable patterns of consumption and production.

  • Embedding sustainable sourcing within the supply chain.

  • Promoting change, and educating consumers.

  • Utilising new technologies to implement sustainable production methods.

  • Reduce waste.

  • Use natural resources in more efficient ways.

Plastic on the beach is one of the key issues faced by the food and drink industry

Sustainability in the Food and Drink Industry, Wrapped Up

At the Leisure F&B Expo on 6th-7th November 2019, at the NEC Birmingham, we aim to inform you about changes within the industry. If you want to discover more about what we offer, or want to exhibit, then please do contact our Event Director, Oliver Hayes, at, or call +44 (0)117 929 6087.

Otherwise, get your FREE tickets to learn more about food and drink with the leisure and hospitality industry. Get involved!

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