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Future of Food & Agriculture Q2 2022

What can businesses do to achieve sustainable supply chains?

iStock / Getty Images Plus / Stijlbende

Simon McKeever

Chief Executive, Irish Exporters Association

Irish businesses are increasingly aware of the importance of preparing for and ultimately transitioning towards sustainable supply chains.

The first half of 2022 has brought forth a new interest in sustainable business practices among our members. Food and agri businesses have been leading the way for many years across manufacturing, operational processes, sustainable packaging and the circular economy.

Taking individual responsibility

As consumers we all have a role to play to combat the climate crisis. What we do, how we do it, where we do it all have implications. The onus is not just on companies to act responsibly; it is on all of us. We have seen a greater need for businesses and their employees across all sectors looking to upskill and educate themselves around customs and international trading challenges, sustainable procurement, carbon reduction, carbon calculation and reporting.

Making changes now

There is not one right way to get started or to continue making progress on your path towards sustainability. A good starting point is to familiarise yourself with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). This should lead you to consider which areas of sustainability to prioritise within your business.

Understanding each pertinent goal and its targets will help you identify areas where your business may need to make improvements and what they might look like, and what changes you may need to seek and perhaps drive in both inbound and outbound supply chains.

The onus is not just on companies to act responsibly; it is on all of us.

Finding advice and support

The Institute of Sustainable Trade (IST) is a division of the Irish Exporters Association. It aims to professionalise the international trade and supply chain industry on how to understand and tackle the challenges of sustainability in line with global, European and national climate change commitments. It also supports the urgent need for industry to move to a more sustainable footing.

Companies should look to those food businesses who have been working tirelessly in this space for years. These companies set targets such as reducing their carbon footprint, electricity and water consumption and are well on their way (if not already) to achieving these targets. These companies are champions in sustainability in their sector and driving Irelands competitiveness on the international stage.

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