The survey, commissioned by emulsifier manufacturer Palsgaard, reveals that 88% of the survey’s 276 food industry respondents, who included food manufacturers, developers and distribution partners from 66 countries worldwide, said purchasing sustainable raw materials is important to their companies.
In addition, interest is even higher, at 91%, among purchasing department representatives.
“Recipes based on sustainable ingredients help to answer the health, safety and environmental concerns of both consumers and manufacturers,” said Palsgaard’s CEO, Jakob Thøisen.
“And they can open doors to new markets, too.”
Speaking at the recent Sustainable Foods Summit in Amsterdam, the Danish firm highlighted the benefits switching to fully sustainable emulsifiers could bring.
In particular, manufacturers could protect and grow their brands with sustainability credentials that resonate with environmentally conscious consumer.
“Replacing a conventional emulsifier with a sustainable one isn’t technically a big issue,” said Palsgaard senior corporate social responsibility (CSR) specialist Lisa Mortensen.
“Although emulsifiers are a minor part of the ingredients list, they are important to the producer – and many consumers, too – as they appear clearly on the label.”
The sustainability claims of emulsifiers gain further credence as vegetable-based emulsifiers such as lecithin and biosurfactants are extracted from sources, such as soybeans, coconut oil or palm oil.
Oil palm cultivation has caused – and continues to cause – deforestation that causes widespread environmental damage and poor conditions for thousands of workers.
Despite the efforts of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to establish international standards for sustainable palm oil production including a Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) label, manufacturers have found it difficult to source trustworthy, fully sustainable ingredients.
According to the survey, this is due to technical formulation issues and challenges associated with evaluating supplier sustainability claims.
The survey was carried out from February 7th to March 7th 2017.
Findings also revealed 88% of the 276 respondents believed it important that Palsgaard respected sustainable palm oil production and had RSPO certified products available.
Further results also noted that 80% of food manufacturers agreed that the degree of Palsgaard’s engagement in CSR was important when choosing a supplier.
“We put enormous effort into risk analysis and responsible sourcing programmes to ensure that our suppliers act responsibly in the supply chain,” said Mortensen.
“When it‘s possible to source key raw materials from a sustainably certified supply chain, audited by a third party, it gives even more confidence in producing a truly sustainable product.”