The Welsh Government aims to provide businesses with networks, resources and support to meet their sustainability goals.
Support for sustainability
Becoming sustainable is a complex endeavour and requires high-level expertise, attention to detail, and an abundance of patience. Information, training, and networks of like-minded businesses can streamline this process and make it easier to manage.
For its food and drink producers, the Welsh Government provides a fully funded training programme on sustainability, and a fully funded training programme on decarbonisation. Businesses are also provided with a self-assessment tool, which they can use to ascertain their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to sustainability, and change their business practices accordingly.
Another training course is planned in 2024, one that will help identify all the risks that businesses are potentially subjected to due to climate change. It will help them identify solutions to these risks, develop resilience to the potential challenges climate change may present, and adapt to these challenges.
Networks are also vitally important. Clusters, groups of businesses and organisations which share resources and knowledge, often provide a framework for such networks to thrive. The Welsh food and drinks sector has several of these, one of which is the sustainability cluster.
Numbering at over 100 businesses, Wales’ Sustainability Cluster has a wide reach. The cluster helps Welsh food and drinks businesses build broad networks, giving them access to both resources and knowledge that may benefit their sustainability goals. The cluster includes manufacturers, suppliers, academic organisations and non-profits. Such a network can help these businesses and organisations help each other reach sustainability goals.
The cluster, which is free to join, brings food producers and manufacturers into contact with expert organisations such as Food Innovation Wales, which helps businesses with NPD, shelf-life analysis and labelling legislation. It reviews their production processes, helping them reduce their carbon footprint as much as possible.
Through the cluster, members also use research centres such as the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre Cymru, where they can gain access to equipment expertise that can enhance food tech R&D.
Membership of a cluster can put a business up close to a diverse range of insights – on what the public wants, on what other businesses want, and even on the direction that the Welsh government itself is going in and the areas in food and beverages it is investing in the most.
Finally, businesses within the cluster are encouraged to partner with organisations like FareShare, a non-profit dedicated to repurposing surplus food by redistributing it to social enterprises, local organisations, or charities serving those who require sustenance. Such collaboration not only helps businesses in reducing their food wastage but also amplifies the impact of redistribution, benefiting individuals in need.
B Corp is a prominent third-party certification given to companies excelling in sustainability, covering both environmental and ethical sustainability. A company with a B Corp certification must pay attention not only to how its practices impact the environment, but also its treatment of workers, how it serves its customers, its role in the community, and how it retains accountability and transparent governance.
Food and drink businesses in Wales get one-to-one support from the Welsh government via the Sustainability Cluster to help them achieve these aims and acquire this certification, helping them complete the self-assessment necessary for them to become a B-Corp business. The Sustainability Cluster manages a dedicated workstream of businesses that are on the way to achieving the much-desired certification.
Wales currently has six B Corp-certified companies, but 20 more suppliers are currently going through the certification process.