The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Environmental Leadership in the 21st Century

Environmental Leadership in the 21st Century

In the News

April 27, 2008

Environmental Leadership in the 21st Century

Frank DiPasquale
Senior Vice President,
N.G.A. and Executive Director,

“Look at Mother Nature on the run…….”
For all you classic rockers you may recognize those words from Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush” record released in the 1970’s. I think Neil Young would be pleased that Americans increasingly express concerns regarding the environment, and that manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers are taking steps to convey the eco-friendliness of their products and services – and taking an important leadership role regarding environmental issues. 
According to the Mintel Global New Products Database, people especially look for eco-friendliness when shopping for household paper products (66%), food (57%) and energy efficient appliances (48%). One new trend observed by Mintel is the development of foods that are not necessarily organic or natural but address other environmental concerns – and consumers are buying them. Most recently, companies are pitching the latest device for environmentally conscious consumers regarding eco-friendly plastic eating utensils. Typically, such throw away items contribute to landfill waste. These latest products are reusable, compostable, or made from recycled material. Price, perceived value and convenience drive these purchases as more and more people adapt a more “green” lifestyle. Thanks to many manufacturers’ efforts, consumers now have more choices in environmentally friendly products.
What about retailer and wholesaler leadership? It’s strong and getting stronger.  Many retailers and wholesalers are working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) installing cutting edge technologies for lighting and refrigeration systems that conserve energy and reduce their carbon footprint. More than 900,000 tons of materials related to waste are recycled each year. Other notable initiatives include: designing stores with energy saving innovations including reflective roofs; integrating “green” technology into existing buildings and working with the U.S. Green Building Council which develops and administers the nationally accepted LEED-EB standard for green buildings; and encouraging widespread use of reusable bags by providing customers with an affordable and eco-friendly alternative to paper and plastic bags.
American demand for electricity alone will double by 2030. Right now, the food industry is poised to lead, on all levels, and guide our nation on what may be the defining issue of our time: energy and the environment. Leadership is often viewed by consumers through the lens of business accepting responsibility for the issues that matter most them, and how business guides “others” towards sensible solutions. Through continued innovation, cooperation, creativity and passion, we have an opportunity to positively impact many generations of shoppers and catch “Mother Nature on the run.”
It was Teddy Roosevelt who said, “To waste, to destroy, our natural resources…. will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.” This notion is still valid today.