The top 7 sustainability trends in the FMCG Sector

BuzzOnEarth is an online publication on environmental sustainability and human wellness, focused on creating positive impact. BoE aims to bridge the knowledge gap and act as a catalyst in accelerating sustainable development.

Introduction

Sustainability is the need of the hour and is required in almost every sector. It is not for nothing that it has turned out to be a trend amongst businesses and individuals. The brand factor is something that influences today’s youth the most. They are brand-loyal consumers mostly but also quick to associate with a cause and hence move on in the process.

The youth of today can understand the importance of a sustainable environment and how they as individuals can contribute to it. Needless to say that seeing the change in the consumers’ buying habits, the companies and firms are also focusing on creating such products which work on different sustainability goals. The research also shows that the products marketed as sustainable grew 5.6 times faster than those that were not marked the same.

Let us have a look at the FMCG sector now. This sector is the fourth largest sector in the Indian economy. Its size is estimated to grow from US$ 30 billion in 2011 to US$ 75 billion in 2018. It generates 5% of the total manufacturing-based employment in India.

Imagine just how important it is for this sector to adopt sustainability goals and move towards more sustainable practices and investments. This sector produces the maximum amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Thus, requiring an immediate shift to sustainable practices.

The recent changes in the climate, landslides, floods have all led for a need to look for more sustainable practices and investments. Let’s have a look at some of the sustainability trends in the FMCG sector that is going to be the thing of the future.

  1. Sourcing Sustainably- The consumer products are now being produced from eco-friendly materials and sources. The sector has already started working towards it like using sustainable palm oil in food and cosmetics, banning animal testing, using a red tractor logo in agriculture. These are some of the practices that the industry is already practising. But now the focus is shifting towards making products from sustainable ingredients and sources. The focus here would be reducing waste. For example, a brand named UK brewer produces beers from unsold loaves of bread given by the bakeries, and they even offer 100% of their profits to an environmental charity to avoid wastage of food. Following the trend, the famous brand body shop also sources its plastic through a partnership with plastics for change. They recycle plastic waste and use it for making shampoo and conditioner bottles. This way, they are supporting the waste-pickers also. Such innovations and trends in the sector make it more sustainable for use.
  2. Using plant-based alternatives- people are shifting their eating habits and becoming vegan. They have reduced meat consumption to a large extent. The trend towards eating plant-based meals is on the rise in the UK. The use of lab-grown meat which is similar in taste, composition and texture instead of the regular beef. The meat industry has had negative impacts of releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and putting a toll on the environment. People are shifting towards being vegan which is affordable and quite popular these days. The supermarkets are flooded with such foods like veggie meat, tofu and tempeh. In this regard, a company named Beyond Meat has made World’s first meat burger that is made from the plant. It is made from vegetable proteins found in peas. Also, making packages which highlight the sustainable brand mission is going to be a marketing strategy for time to come. One such brand is the dairy alternative ‘oatly’ who put the climate footprint of the product on the packaging to make the consumers aware of the impact it has on the environment.
  3. Packaging Sustainably- plastic has had a significant impact on the environment. The plastic packaging of the products has caused a lot of environmental harm. It, therefore, requires the retailers to reduce their impact on the environment by reducing plastic waste. In this regard, the supermarkets have moved towards zero waste transformation by giving fruits and vegetables without a wrapper. Tesco announced last year that it would go plastic-free entirely and remove all plastic packaging. Apart from this, an emphasis on biodegradable and reusable options has also been given. In the US, initiatives like delivery and collection service for products are reusable packaging which offers the consumers the chance to repurchase the same product in the refillable containers. The positive point is that the consumers are also coming forward and are ready to spend extra for the same so that they can contribute their part towards the environment.
  4. Using energy efficiently- The use of LED lights and bulbs is also getting popular these days. It has replaced the traditional incandescent bulbs. They have reduced the energy consumption to a great extent by around 40%, which helps in saving the electricity bill and saves money. By adopting the LED lights, American households can achieve 84% market share by 2030. Companies are moving towards sourcing renewable energy. A company named Waitrose has committed to using only electric vehicles for distribution by 2045. L’Oreal has also come up with building dry factories with a closed-loop water system.
  5. Moving towards a sustainable environment-  the consumers are becoming more and more aware and are looking for products that have sustainability labels on them. They now go beyond the products and look for ways in which the organisation contributes towards sustainability. The companies understanding the purchasing habits of the consumers also keep sustainability at the core and publish their reports with full transparency. This shows that the companies are investing in sustainability, and the consumers’ trust is also built in the company. Apart from this, the FMCG industries are also coming up and supporting environmental charities. The leading example of this is the company Tesco partnering with WWF to improve the global food system.
  6. Sustainable clothing- fast-moving fashion is taking a toll on the environment. There is a need to move towards slow fashion which can reduce the impact on the environment. Sustainable clothing can be reusing the clothes again and avoiding the waste generated during production. In this regard, for days a clothing brand provides subscriptions to the users where they can take six t-shirts, use them and then send them back to the upcycled anew. In turn, they will receive the new versions of the shirt.
  7. Sustainability in footwear– the footwear market has also taken its step towards sustainability. In this respect, Nike opened a community space in the location of their original store. This way, the brand helps and supports a community while creating collaboration with its history. The inter sports Beijing store collaborates with the consumers, which uses artificial intelligence mirrors and gives recommendations to the consumers. The product is delivered right to the buyer’s door within two hours.

Conclusion

The FMCG sector contributes mainly to the Indian economy. It is, therefore, crucial that FMCG brands should innovate to create a sustainable environment. The consumers are becoming more and more aware and are shifting towards buying products which have the sustainability tag on them. It is thus necessary for the FMCG brands to adopt such trends that lead towards a sustainable environment.