With a gross output of £65.7 billion, the food and drink business is one of the largest sectors in UK industry, accounting for 17 per cent of manufacturing GDP.
As a result, it has been subjected to various EU and UK laws preventing excessive waste, water use and emissions - which can cost companies millions in fines.
But business advisory organisation Envirowise claims that by sticking to the legislation and minimising wastage, companies can reclaim about 4.5 per cent of annual turnover that is lost every year.
Poorly managed packaging, water use and recycling programs can eat into profit margins, and every step of the business process should be analysed to improve efficiency, the organisation says.
"We are interested in landfill issues, emissions, and water reduction. It's all about the reduce, reuse and recycle slogan. It seems straightforward, but when we send our advisors out they very often find that companies are overlooking the obvious," said Maia Vassileva, Envirowise media manager.
"Many are buying more raw materials than they need for example. But it's about streamlining as much as possible. If a company buys ten pints of milk but only uses nine there's wastage involved. It may not sound like a lot but for a medium or large business these things add up."
Often the processes that need to be changed are apparent, even catalogued, but companies feel they do not have the time to address these issues, Vassileva explained.
So Envirowise operates a consultancy service that assists with environmental improvement programs and cost efficiency gains. The premise being that if mid- to long-term gains were taken into account, savings made in waste, packaging and water use now could bolster profits in the future.
With an effective environmental management system, manufacturers can reduce operating costs, gain competitive advantage, comply with legal obligations and improve their public image.
"Cutting waste can be profitable. At the end of the day it's all about optimisation. And getting environmental credentials will help brand positioning," Vassileva explained.
Envirowise is hosting the Food Environmental Efficiency Day (FEED), a free one-day conference at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, giving advice on waste reduction and resource efficiency.
The organisation hopes to make contact with manufacturers who need their help and offer practical advice on simple business changes that will impact resource management immediately.
Envirowise claims that for many companies, sooner or later, waste minimisation will not be a matter of choice - it will be a survival issue.