Written by: Mike Edmunds

Posted on: 05/10/23

ESG in Food: The Data-Driven Approach

What does data-driven mean in the context of ESG, and how can you embed this approach in your food product management process?

ESG in the Food and Beverage Sector is a matter which is increasingly concerning to us. To properly embed ESG across the industry, you need a data-driven approach. This approach demands vast amounts of information and powerful software to manage and produce specific ESG reports. When it comes to product information management, manufacturing site data is critical for ESG, with impactful factors such as labour practices, transportation, and waste management coming into play.

Adopting a data-driven approach to address these factors is crucial for ensuring the accuracy and security of decisions related to the food products you endorse and distribute. Accurate data is key, especially if you aim to track and manage your carbon footprint responsibly. To track and manage your carbon footprint effectively, accurate data is essential. After all, you can only manage what you can measure.

Benefits of a Data-Driven Approach

ESG considerations extend beyond product management, but understanding your product supplier’s rating’s impact on your business is crucial. Scope 3 emissions, the largest contributor to a company’s carbon footprint, are frequently found in the supply chain, among other areas.

To understand your product supplier’s carbon footprint, you need specific information. Data must be collected about resource usage for the product in question, assessing its impact on local communities, and identifying ethical business practices if there are any.

Additionally, you must gather critical information regarding ingredients, allergens, and nutritional facts as standard.

Knowing what ESG information to collect from suppliers is clear, but ensuring efficient data collection poses challenges. Presenting this data effectively to stakeholders and decision-makers with the power to drive change is yet another challenge.

The Need for Data

To comprehend the ‘big picture,’ you require data, context, dates, certificates, and various other data points. Numbers don’t deceive. Reports based on well-collected data are invaluable when stakeholders must be kept informed. Having secure facts and figures boosts confidence and aids understanding, making it easier to present your position during pitches, quarterly updates, or progress reports. Everyone relaxes when you can convincingly assert your position.

Manual processes , therefore, should be left in the past. There is no filing system, excel spreadsheet, or paper form advanced and accessible enough to keep up with modern demand. These methods are inefficient at best, inaccurate at worst. They consume too much time and pose challenges for data analysis. How can you enhance your ESG rating with confidence if you lack trust in your data?

If you haven’t explored digital solutions yet, now is the time.

Embracing Digital Solutions

You might be weary of hearing about the wonders of AI, process automation, and APIs. Sticking to familiar processes and believing you can adapt them to include ESG considerations in food production and distribution may seem like the best course of action. However, this mindset can delay the significant benefits offered by digital solutions.

Benefits of Digital Solutions

Contrary to manual solutions, digital solutions offer complete accessibility. Cloud-based systems provide secure and easy access to information, even in the era of remote work. The nature of cloud-based systems also means that online storage space is increased, as a separate server to your own hosts the software, which also adds another layer of security.

In terms of ESG reporting, digital solutions outperform manual systems at every hurdle. A system which is able to configure, customise, and mould to your exact needs is invaluable. Solutions like ARCUS® simplify ESG reporting in the food sector in this way by streamlining your processes.

AI, despite being a buzzword, brings efficiency to tedious but necessary tasks.

More and more digital solutions, if they haven’t already, will be adopting AI into their systems to fulfil a variety of tasks. ARCUS® has featured AI in it’s Supplier Information Management module since 2019 to verify supplier certifications and documents (with 99.5% accuracy).

Automation is a mindless word, but organising task responsibility, hierarchy, and including timely reminders of deadlines equals more efficient teams. More efficient teams work better, collaborate more easily, and produce superior results. A digital solution can create online, automated workflows which enable all of these actions to happen, thus making your team more efficient in collaboration and in producing results.

APIs act as bridges of information between applications, ensuring the accuracy of data used for product information configuration.

For example, in ARCUS®, our Fourth Recipe and Menu Engineering API enables the transfer of specific product data directly into our PIM module, but as well as this we have APIs which connect with other software modules we offer, serving different purposes. What unifies them, however, is their collective function as pure, trustworthy data streams.

In Conclusion

A data-driven approach is unmatched for ESG in the food sector. No manual system, however efficient, matches the effectiveness of a digital solution. Overcoming the challenges of ensuring data accuracy becomes effortless with a digital system. A platform designed to maximize data collection efficiency, combined with APIs to ensure compliance, is a game-changer for any business. Embrace the future and fortify your team against the technological revolution.