A spokesperson for Improve told FoodProductionDaily.com that the draft set of National Occupational Standards (NOS) in sustainability it has drawn up was informed by evidence of industry best practice as well as the views of employers as to the key issues facing the industry in this regard.
He said that the standards, which are currently under further consideration by employers, will map out the skills and knowledge staff at all levels throughout the food and drink supply chain need in areas such as energy efficiency, waste reduction and elimination, as well as demonstrating corporate social responsibility to the community.
According to the spokesperson, the working deadline for finalising the standards is the end of March.
“Once they are finalised and approved, Improve will then look at qualifications and training programme development – the aim is to have flexible, easily accessible options in place which will allow all food and drink companies to offer training to their staff that will improve the overall sustainability of their business,” he added.
Patrick McDaniel, from specialist food and drink consultants RI Training, is leading the project on behalf of Improve. He said that the draft standards can be divided into three broad categories of strategy, implementation and practice, to reflect the different stages involved in making a business more sustainable.
Industry representatives, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) are holding a workshop on sustainability today at their London headquarters, at which, it said, the draft standards will be discussed.
Angela Coleshill, FDF director of human resources, said that as sustainability is about improving the industry’s environmental credentials and also improving efficiency, the new standards will have huge long term economic benefits, and will help to secure future competitiveness.
Meanwhile, Nizo Food Research, claims that shareholders are increasingly looking for evidence that a food company has green projects ingrained in the management strategy.
David Hollestelle, who works in business development at the Dutch research company, said that shareholders scrutinize the sustainability reports of big food firms to see “what they are doing for people, planet and profit.”
Nizo said that it is holding a workshop on 2-3 April, which aims to look at a range of areas in which sustainability may yield profits.
The company said that projects geared towards sustainability can be both long- and short-term – for instance, investment made in developing breakthrough technologies now may not be recouped for a number of years.
Moreover, investment now is all the more crucial, argues Hollestelle, because “in 10 years plus sustainability will be even more important”.
More information on Nizo’s workshop is available from david.hollestelle ‘at’ nizo.nl