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Learnings on achieving carbon neutral for ingredients brands—podcast

The very real issues of climate change are putting increased pressure on industries to reduce their environmental footprint and build sustainable business and production models. Within the natural products supply chain, ingredients manufacturing contributes significantly to the overall carbon footprint of finished products that retail at consumer level. With tighter regulations on the horizon and consumers holding brands accountable, companies are starting to seriously evaluate carbon impact across the supply chain.

In this podcast, Simon Levesque, business development director at Nexira, speaks to the importance of achieving carbon neutral for ingredients manufacturers.

Tune in to hear more about:

  • The need to drive more action around carbon footprint reduction plans to meet environmental needs and customer expectations
  • Regulators and legislation in coming years that could cause supply chain to reform quicker than anticipated
  • Communicating carbon action to consumers through on-package information
  • Nexira’s motivation to achieve carbon neutral goal, and how this achievement reflects not only an environmental effort but also a market advantage opportunity

Guest



Simon Levesque
Business development director at Nexira

 

Vitafoods Insights Podcast

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Podcast transcript:

Vitafoods Insights: 0:05 Welcome to the Vitafoods Insights podcast. Join us as we explore the latest science innovation, helping the global health and nutrition industry connect, develop and progress. Today's host is Charlotte Bastiaanse, Editor.

Charlotte: 0:23 Hi, and thanks for tuning into this vitafoods insights podcast. I'm delighted to be joined today by Simon Levesque, who is Business Development Director at Nexira, which is an ingredients and botanical extracts company based out of France. Thanks for joining me today, Simon.

Simon: 0:39 Hi, thank you.

Charlotte: 0:41 Today we're talking to someone who has been a lead on one and next year his latest achievements, which is becoming the first carbon neutral ingredients brand through an entirely voluntary effort. Simon before we dive into our chat, could you tell us a little bit more about you and your position with next era?

Simon: 0:56 Yes. So, I'm Simon Levesque. I'm the Business Development Director of Nexira, and this service marketing department and R&D department of the company, based in France, and with a certain number of subsidiaries all over the world, including region business.

Charlotte: 1:13 Thanks, Simon. Now, we're going to be talking about next year as carbon neutral achievement, which I can't wait to hear more about. We know that global warming is a really big issue with major future impact. And we are seeing local and regional authorities, which are rethinking that action to reduce carbon emissions, which inevitably impacts businesses when formal laws come into place. So, some want to kick us off, why is there a need for ingredients manufacturers to drive more action into their carbon footprint reduction plan? How does this not only reduce environmental impact, but also help meet the needs of some of the finished products brands?

Simon: 1:53 Well, I would say that in one hand, we see a growing expectations from final consumers to have the possibility to choose a product depending on its environmental value. And in the other hand, we see clearly now that in many countries, regulations are moving in a way to encourage food companies to reduce greenhouse gases emissions. And I think these two points are very clearly showing to ingredient manufacturers that they should pay attention to their carbon footprint. Finished product manufacturers, who already measure their environmental footprint, may have done what we call a GHG Protocol, greenhouse gases protocol, it's a way to remember the CO2 emissions. And the result of this for food industry companies as well as nutrition and food supplement companies is part of CO2 emissions, mainly coming from ingredients between 50% and 90% of their carbon footprint, should come from the ingredient they are using in their formula. So, in a certain way, I think this means that ingredients with a low carbon footprint is one of the first thing they are going to look after to reduce your carbon footprint.

Charlotte: 3:14 That's quite a high number 50% to 90% of carbon emissions impacting the overall impact. So it's really important, I think, for ingredients companies to consider that. What do you think could be introduced in the coming years in terms of regulation or law that to reduce carbon emissions and protect the environment?

Simon: 3:34 In terms of regulation or law, I think the first point we have to consider is what we call the Paris agreement in 2015, what we call the COP 21, where a large number of countries, I think it's more than 190 countries engage themselves to reach what they called carbon neutrality in 2050. And this was done in order to limit the increase of temperature on earth well below two degrees. And this is really the starting point, then, to reach this common goal, all the countries are looking for regulatory tools that we have to reach this target. And we think at next era, that the most relevant tool would be the carbon value levelling, or CO2 score, or what we call the Eco score, because this will give to consumers the possibility of choosing between products, depending on their environmental value.

Charlotte: 4:32 So Simon, I think you were just starting to touch on this and I think this is really important that the consumer can make that educated choice. How can carbon action be communicated to the consumer through unpackage information?

Simon: 4:45 Well, this could typically stand like nutritional score on packaging. What has still to be decided in, in many countries is the precise definition of sealed to score. Will it be a Eco score, CO2 score, GHG score for greenhouse gases? And will it be a letter of colour? For sure this? I don't know it yet precisely. This might depends on local regulation. A very important point will be, where can it be labelled on packagings that are already quite busy? And can we expect local regulation to encourage a highly visible information? because this information on packagings is maybe the most relevant regulatory to, that countries can find to really make a big move in all the industries and the food industry for sure in the supplement industries part of it.

Charlotte:  5:41 Thanks Simon, yeah, I think the display on pack to the consumer is going to become so important with helping them make that decision. Now, Nexira has already been involved in a number of projects that I think align with the United Nations sustainable development goals, and you have your partnership with SOS Health. So sustainability always seems to have been a very high priority to Nexira. What motivated Nexira exactly to achieve its carbon neutral goal, since this was a entirely voluntary effort?

Simon:  6:12 Well, as you told main starting point for Nexira, it was a long time ago, because we have been involved in the Sahel area where we collect the Acacia gum or Acacia fibre. And since maybe 40 years, we have been working with an NGO whose name is SOS Sahel, and since 10 years, we have been working with them on projects to really increase the sustainability of the value chain of our main product. So this was really a culture that the company developed that enable Nexira in 2019, to a new brand whose name is Innovia. His brand is an offer for nutritional industry, and it's combining nutritional ingredients with for meet supplements, bars, policies, and so on. The idea was to match consumer expectations for environmental friendly product. So we had the idea to develop a carbon neutral ingredient. These ideas lead to a global plan for next year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to our activity all along the value chain. But this has also been possible because since 10, to 15 years, we have increased our participation in sustainable development in Sahel by planting trees, we have already act on reforestation, planting more than 2 million trees to make the value chain always more sustainable.

Charlotte: 7:42 Thanks so much for that framework, it's really important to hear that and really commend you on that effort. Before any of the ingredients companies that might be listening and are interested in setting up their own reduction plans. Could you explain a little bit to us about how Nexira set up its reduction plan and the benefits that you believe you have gained through this carbon neutral achievement?

Simon: 8:05 How did we set up our reduction plan? I would say we have been working in we are still working with a company called the Eco Act, which is one of the global leader in decarbonisation strategies. And this company has helped us to evaluate several options, different possibilities, and to find the relevant possible actions to reach reduction plan of our global emissions, that would be on line with the Paris Agreement, COP 2021 to maintain the global warming, and the temperature increase well below two degrees. And then your next point was how does next year again, benefits to the carbon neutral achievement? I think our customers are paying more and more attention to this positioning statement of the brand with carbon neutrality. And we really see our figures and results that environmental value is becoming a new choice criteria for food ingredients. I really think this is just the beginning because we've launched more than one year and a half ago in our brand with this carbon neutrality perspective. And we have seen a very positive reaction of the market getting this new choice with area.

Charlotte: 9:21 Thanks Simon, I think not only is it important for ingredients companies to work on an effort like this because not only part of the global effort that's needed to overcome climate change. But as you mentioned, I think it's going to become an important aspect of gaining market advantage as you said customers are actively seeking to partner with ingredient brands that are putting this topic at the front of their consideration and their strategy. So thank you very much for sharing that with us. Simon has been such a pleasure to have you on this podcast and to hear a little bit more about how Nexira went about achieving this carbon neutral achievement. So thank you very much for sharing with us.

Simon: 10:00 My pleasure. Thank you very much.

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