Redefining what sustainability means in distribution as a service.

May 2022

Consumers value transparency in the supply chain. They want to buy from a brand that not only sets its own sustainability targets but intends to meet them. Whether that’s through reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, investing in next-generation technology or by sourcing local ingredients that are sustainably manufactured.

As reported by Forbes, all consumers – regardless of generation – are now spending more on sustainable products. The largest cohort is Generation X, where 90% said they would be willing to spend 10% or more for sustainable products, compared to just 34% two years prior [1]. However, where they differ is in how they define sustainability to them. While millennials and boomers define sustainability by a product’s ingredients or materials used, Generation Z determine sustainability in terms of its manufacturing processes.

A shared responsibility

While consumers are actively trying to do their part to purchase products that uphold their sustainability values, much of the responsibility lies with businesses and governments. According to data from Mintel’s Sustainability Barometer 2021 report2, 50-60% of consumers believe that the government is most responsible for increasing forestation and conserving clean water supplies. In addition, 40-50% believe companies are most responsible for increasing the amount of packaging that is recycled and for reducing emissions from aircrafts. Approximately 40% of consumers believe that both government and companies are equally responsibly for stopping pollution entering rivers and seas.

The Mintel report also touched on which types of companies were ranked the most responsible for protecting the environment. According to consumer sentiment, 44% believe passenger transport companies are the most responsible, closely followed by household product manufacturers (39%), while make-up product manufacturers (17%) and dining venues (15%) were the least [2].

Top environmental concerns

Above all else, consumers rank climate change, air quality and plastic pollution as their top concerns, with loss of biodiversity on land and in oceans at the lower end of the spectrum. According to Mintel data, 36.1% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in 2016 were from industry and road transport energy emissions, while 18.4% of GHGs come from agriculture, forestry and land use [2].

It is clear there is more that needs to be done by all parties involved – both from an educational and practical perspective. This is where ACI Group wants to help.

Driving a sustainable business model

As a leading distributor working with some of the largest global food, pharma, industrial and road brands, at ACI Group we do things differently. We want to redefine what sustainability means under our distribution as a service model by ensuring that any claim – by us, our suppliers or customers – is measured from the outset.

To ensure we meet this goal, we have become the UK’s first distributor to achieve the esteemed Social Value Quality Mark (SVQM). As an award that aims to cultivate and recognise the highest known standards in values-led business, SVQM is supported by a team of independent practitioners who uphold the highest levels of rigour, quality and trust. There are four levels of accreditation:

Level 1 – Committing to a series of pledges
Level 2 – Forecasting a timeline for desired criteria pledged
Level 3 – Evaluating social value against criteria pledged
Level 4 – Embedding social value through every area of business

Currently, we have achieved level one and have committed to a series of pledges, which include the following:
- Reducing impact on the planet by cutting carbon footprint in our distribution model
- Investing in local businesses to support regional growth
- Investing in the health and wellbeing of our employees

We are now actively drawing up a 12-month forecast on how we can achieve these goals throughout the business and are eagerly working towards level two.

With companies, the government and consumers all wanting demonstrable proof of sustainability claims, ACI Group wants to be the distributor to truly make a difference, proving that a supply chain can be just as transparent and trustworthy as it is efficient.

To find out how ACI Group can help improve sustainability in your supply chain, contact us here.

1., Consumers demand sustainable products and shopping formats, March 2022
2. Mintel, Sustainability Barometer 2021, July 2021

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