As mainstream marketing campaigns in the consumer goods industry hits emotional notes, touching upon sustainable and ethical sourcing, customers are calling for more transparency around supply chains, treatment of labour workers and sourcing practices. As customer loyalty redirects from brands offering low cost, routine products, to suppliers championing responsibly sourced, green produce, leading FMCG brands are fighting for customer loyalty.

As the nature of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) is to deliver high turnover products at a low price point, how can global brands engineer sustainable sourcing into the production process without compromising on key FMCG characteristics? As industry best practice calls for a published policy on supply chain monitoring and the impact of the sourcing process on the environment, brand accountability is influencing buyer decisions. We look at how UK’s largest retailers are taking action to integrate sustainability into their supplier selection process to secure customer loyalty and reduce their carbon footprint.

Revising supplier selection process
When selecting a supplier to integrate into your supply chain, it is essential to enquire about their social and environmental targets as by associating your business with the chosen supplier, you are promoting their vision by extension. If there are hidden sustainability issues in the supply chain, this could incur a financial loss for your business due to long-lasting reputational damage. Purchasing supplies responsibly and carrying out extensive due diligence can boost your credibility in the eyes of an eco-conscious society. Failure to carry out such checks could result in the eradication of entire customer bases, commercial partnerships and creative relationships.

Rescuing surplus and imperfect produce
To cut back on food waste and utilise fruit and vegetables failing to match the aesthetic norm, Morrisons became one of the first supermarkets to sell wonky fruit and vegetables to support UK farmers and tackle food waste. This allowed for more affordable products to hit the shelves, despite it being misshapen. An estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food go to waste each year on a global scale, the highest food type being fruit and vegetables failing to meet retail standards. Several supermarkets followed suit by recognising the opportunity to enhance sustainability standards and drastically reduce food wastage.

This is a serious challenge for the FMCG industry due to the cyclical nature of production lines and low-cost output. As global warming increases at an unprecedented rate per year, customers are actively purchasing through ethical brands, making your social and economic responsibility to source sustainably a pressing priority. As consumer behaviour is influenced by environmental factors, FMCG brands are beginning to mirror this, or risk extinction.

Drawing customers through responsible sourcing
FMCG companies are instrumental in shaping norms, influencing buyer behaviour and popularising products on a global scale, integrating essential products into the lives of billions, which in turn, establishes recurring income and customer loyalty. These brands have the power to educate consumers on buying responsibly and strategically, reigniting customer loyalty and reaffirming their position in the lives of consumers on an emotive basis.

Nestlé, the largest food brand in the world, has been actively working towards building an ethical reputation through its acquisition of Sweet Earth Foods. By acquiring the plant-based foods manufacturer, Nestlé has established a walkway into a new market and expanded its consumer base. By serving non-GMO products, Nestlé is actively fighting against the consumption of genetically modified foods and promoting the veganism and vegetarian lifestyle.

Leading FMCG brands have the power to reform norms and educate consumers on making informed food choices to improve lifestyles. From a consumer point of view, purchasing from an ethical brand with a low footprint on the environment helps take a step closer to a greener world. By securing customer loyalty through knowledge sharing and leading the fight against climate change, consumers are likely to remain loyal over the long-term.