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Food for thought - the market is changing

Later this week I'm running a couple of workshops on social enterprise and food, and one thing that struck me in preparing for the events was the scale of change being launched by large corporate business, and comparing the relationship between scale of resources and scale of change, with that available to the smaller businesses and local producers that they have traditionally fought with for market share.

Recent announcements include those by Unilever[1] who commit to halve the environmental impact of its products in the next ten years, Procter & Gamble, who have committed “to improve more consumers' lives in more parts of the world more completely", and Pepsico, who’s head of sustainability states "Because we wanted to be viewed as a leader in terms of health and sustainability, there is now an expectation that we will lead”

 Pepsico will take the three factories that producing its crisps and employ 3500 people off the water mains by extracting water from the potatoes they produce. P&G announced ten year goals that include 100% renewable energy, 100% renewable or recycled materials for all products and packaging, zero consumer and manufacturing waste go to landfills, and delivering effluent water quality that is as good as or better then influent water quality with no contribution to water scarcity. Unilever intends to “double sales and halve the environmental impact of its products over the next 10 years” and source 100% of agricultural raw materials sustainably by 2015.[2]

Developments of this scale by businesses with the power, reach and resources of Unilever, P&G, Pepsico and the others that will surely follow place the innovation threshold at a high level for social enterprises, small scale farmers and local food producers, as the investments by the big players start to reap a return on reduced energy and resource costs that will make it harder to compete. The upside is that leader board has shifted for keeps, and the market will follow, bringing more intelligent, more sustainable practice to bear rapidly and effectively.





Reader Comments (1)

Hi Andy,

I am very happy to have come into contact with your work. The do lectures have always been a great inspiration to me. I really thought you made sense with the comment that you have to earn the right to be right - that the reason potential change makers fall flat on the face is due to them not being good enough. But I do ask you how to get better? How to improve and to be good enough for people to take notice, be inspired and make the change. I guess what I am asking is where can you go to upskill in the skills of persuassion, facilitation and behavioural change? I have looked into Schumacher courses and a few other things. I think one problem is perhaps the lack of opportunity to try to influence - and the lack of mentors who can teach and guide. We all need some guidance and support over time as we grow and develop.

I am interested in your work on Social Enterprise and Food. Would you be able to provide more details? I am currently involved in a knowledge transfer partnership which is researching the contribution of social enterprise to sustainable development goals. Looking at the scale and scope of SE activity, channels of advice, new opportunities, support needs, innovative practices etc. I am particularly interested in food projects and have been gathering information about community supported agricultural projects, transition town models as food hub catalysts and various other things.

I have really enjoyed your blog and some of the links and things. Thanks.

December 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGordon Keay

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