Food systems contribute around one quarter of global green house emissions. The UK’s food and drink sector was responsible for 165 million tonnes of carbon emissions in 2019.

With that in mind the food industry has a big role to play if we’re going to help meet the targets set out at COP26 last year. COP26 brought more than 120 countries together to agree to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050.

Achieving net zero requires action at every stage of the value chain. The way in which we grow, manufacturer and transport food is a major contributor to climate change. Reducing carbon emissions will require big changes in agriculture, production, and distribution. So, who is responsible for driving change when it comes to sustainability?


Did you know that ingredients and imports are the largest source of emissions in the UK food and drink sector? To be able to tackle climate change successfully we must all review our producers and suppliers and their engagement on sustainability. It’s not just the end-product that matters but all the little components and ingredients sourced from all corners of the world that will help us make a difference.

What can you do when it comes to ingredients?

  • Dive into your ingredient emissions and learn where your emissions lie
  • Engage with your suppliers and find climate conscious ingredient options
  • Make sustainability a core concept for new product development


Whilst packaging is a minor contributor to emissions in the UK, customer concern is really the driving force here. Consumers are increasingly concerned about excess packaging and the emissions related to high levels of packaged products. When it comes to packaging it’s not as simple as just making quick changes and cutting down, when you think of the design you must think about preserving and protecting the product for human consumption. That’s why when it comes to sustainability, it’s all about the bigger strategy. We must think about the detail, work sustainability into our packaging strategies and make it a part of the bigger picture.

What can you do when it comes to packaging?

  • Reduce packaging and consider recyclable alternatives
  • Work collaboratively with your packaging suppliers


When it comes to the food sector, manufacturing makes up 6% of total emissions. The food and drink processing industry emits around 9.3 million tonnes of emissions each year. Most manufacturers have the potential to use less energy and look towards lower energy solutions. Considering more energy efficient processes can play a huge role in cutting emissions in the manufacturing stages.

What can you do when it comes to manufacturing?

  • Set targets when it comes to energy efficiency
  • Train staff on best energy management principles
  • Consider the way forward with renewable energy


Distributing and storing our food and beverage products accounts for 5% of the food sectors emissions. Most of these emissions relate, as you may expect, to the transportation of goods. However, 10% of distribution emissions relate to refrigeration.

What can you do when it comes to distribution?

  • Think of electric vehicles and energy efficient transportation methods
  • Look at low energy refrigeration units
  • Onsite renewables

There’s so much to be thinking about when it comes to reducing carbon emissions in the food and beverage industry and no matter what product you produce, sustainability really needs to be at the forefront of what you do. There is no ‘Planet B’. We must all start working together to achieve more.

It’s also important to consider the value technology can bring when it comes to improving on your sustainability initiatives. An ERP solution that helps you at every step of your journey can be the best choice for ensuring you are being cautious at every stage.

We need to start thinking about the future now.