Growing consumer pressures driving sustainability in the nutrition industry

By Olivia Haslam

- Last updated on GMT

GettyImages - Sustainability Activists / Daniel de la Hoz
GettyImages - Sustainability Activists / Daniel de la Hoz

Related tags Sustainability consumer behavior Cocoa Herbal dietary supplements Agriculture Supply chain Supply chain management

Consumer and legislative pressures, and scarcity of ingredients will be the three main drivers for nutraceutical companies to become more sustainable, according to Monique van der Vijve, innovation manager at Solidaridad, the global sustainability organisation.

Speaking to NutraIngredients about current pressures on the industry, Van der Vijve notes the key drivers of sustainable practices in the nutraceuticals industry.

“Components which directly affect their business,” will be the key factors, she argues.

She explains that for a long time, and by many still, ‘sustainability’ is seen as a marketing opportunity. 

However, she states: “I think now with consumer pressure increasing, and also with legislative pressure increasing, it is putting pressure on brands to start looking at this differently."

New technologies

She points out the growing opportunities with new technologies, noting the opportunities for farmers to benefit from new upcycling tech to diversify their income streams and become entrepreneurs in this field.

She references the work of cocoa company Barry Callebaut​ which has been addressing food waste and offering more income opportunities to farmers, through their Cocoa Horizons Foundation​.

The company uses both the seed and fruit of cocoa beans, differing from mass production which tends to only use one or the other, discarding the rest. 

Solaridad announced its partnership with Informa Markets at Vitafoods this year. Heather Granato, vice president of partnerships and sustainability at Informa Markets, tells NutraIngredients there needs to be an incentive for change to benefit farmers.

“It’s not fair for the farmer to pick up all the costs of sustainable farming,” she argues, “so how do we help? How do we help make that transparent for consumers and brands to understand? It is probably going to take legislative change.”

Legislative change

Granato argues a lot of change around sustainability will come from legislative pressure. 

“I think it's very challenging in free markets to expect that consumers and businesses are going to do the right thing just because it's the right thing to do.

“But when they see that it also has a business benefit then, then there are all in, and I think you see that with all types of issues.”

Granato made a comparison to the issue of gender equality in a workspace.

“If you look at the issue of gender equality, it takes legislative change to drive folks forward, but then they realise that they have better business outcomes when they have a more gender-diverse workforce,” she says.


Discussing the importance of transparency and storytelling in boosting consumer awareness, Granato adds: “This work in transparency not only makes work visible, but it also humanises it. 

“As we humanise the supply chain, we are ultimately going to make better decisions - It's a lot easier to make decisions about the ingredients you source and the price you pay when there's not a person at the other end of it.”

Van der Vijve notes the successful efforts of the Fairtrade movement to gain consumer interest, as well as brands like Gaia Herbs who utilise their herb traceability tool as part of their USP.

The tool allows consumers to input their products ‘Herb ID’ located on the packaging into a search option on Gaia Herbs​’ site, which provides certification of the batch having passed microbial testing, heavy metals testing, identity testing, pesticide testing, and strength testing. 

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