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Making food and drink manufacturing more sustainable

In a competitive market, food and drink manufacturers are vying to do more, with less – complicating the journey towards becoming economically and environmentally sustainable.

The growing cost of raw materials, energy and labor have made it increasingly difficult for food and drink manufacturers to remain competitive on price and achieve acceptable margins. At the same time, consumers now demand improved environmental and sustainability credentials. As our Distributed Energy Future Trends report demonstrates, companies need to be both economically and environmentally sustainable.

Together, these factors mean that food and drink manufacturers are often under pressure to do more, with less.

For many years, the industry has been making progress towards becoming more sustainable and environmentally-friendly. They’ve reduced packaging waste, identified ways to become more energy efficient, and reduced resource consumption. To go even further to reduce carbon emissions and operate more sustainably, food and drink manufacturers must embrace systematic change to their operations and consider the benefits of new energy innovations.

Consider the bigger picture

In order to improve your carbon footprint, you first need to understand it. This doesn’t just mean looking at your metered energy data to identify energy saving opportunities at an equipment or process level. Manufacturers can go far deeper than this, by harnessing Internet of Things-powered analytics to more comprehensively understand their entire energy footprint, uncover hidden waste and inform future investment in energy technology.

In the food and drink industry in particular, it’s also critical that to look beyond your own organization and consider the entire supply chain. It’s likely that changes will be required here for your operation to become truly carbon neutral. Incentivizing sustainable practices, setting clear targets, or hosting training programs can help to reduce emissions and encourage environmentally-friendly practices from the top down that align with your own organization’s best practices.

Embrace energy innovations

It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that energy costs can rapidly escalate in the food and drink industry – particularly given the need for 24/7 refrigeration and large quantities of heat.

One potential solution is to invest in the combined potential of solar and battery storage. Working together, these technological innovations can deliver significant cost savings and sustainability benefits.

Going one step further than this, manufacturers should also consider leveraging automated Demand Response technology to participate in Virtual Power Plants. These systems automate the dispatch of smart aggregated portfolios of power flexibility. Underpinned by artificial intelligence, this technological innovation provides manufacturers with the opportunity to generate revenue from some of the most lucrative fast response demand side opportunities.

Aligning to business objectives

Now is the time for food and drink manufacturers to deploy the sustainable energy practices that will enable them to reduce carbon emissions, increase efficiency, and gain a competitive advantage. With the latest energy technologies and more detailed intelligence of their energy infrastructure, organizations can design a sustainable energy strategy that’s aligned to their business objectives.

That’s where Centrica Business Solutions can help. With extensive experience partnering with food and drink manufacturers, we have a deep understanding of the energy challenges these companies face – and how to solve them. Contact Centrica Business Solutions for more information on the ways in which we can help.