Five tips to navigate plant-based trends in procurement

posted by Barbara Guignard
3 May 2019

Today’s more discerning consumer wants to know where their food comes from, how it was made, and its subsequent impact on the environment, but what does this mean for meat and dairy procurement?

Plant-based alternatives are experiencing a rise in investment. Nestlé being a good example of this, recently launching its ‘meatless’ burger. Meanwhile, research from Mintel reveals that the sales of milk alternatives - including soya, almond, coconut milk - in the US have increased by 61% between 2012 and 2018, reaching over $2bn sales.

The signs clearly indicate a shift in the future production and consumption of meat and dairy, but what can procurement professionals do to respond effectively to this change?

1. Traceability and sustainability

These are two topics that seem unlikely to fade as quickly as diets. It is probably time to discuss future investments with meat and dairy suppliers. Key questions to consider include what systems are in place to track the supply chain? How do you ensure production is sustainable? What steps are in place to ensure you stay ahead of stringent future legislative requirements?

2. Collaboration with suppliers and innovation

Alternatives to meat and dairy are a trend to follow closely. Some companies have already decided to invest in this field, such as Maple Leaf in the US, which recently announced that it’s to build a £310m plant-based, food protein plan.

3. Strategic approach to procurement

The initiatives explained above cannot be executed without a strategic procurement plan in place. Strategic procurement is not about a one-off discussion with suppliers when the prices are starting to creep up or when the contract needs renewing, but about putting together a comprehensive programme of procurement practices within your organisation.

4. Cross-functional cooperation

Similarly, a strategic procurement organisation cannot operate in an optimal way without collaborating with different functions within the company. For example, procurement can talk to sales and they can work together to understand the challenges faced by both parties and agree on solutions that offer the best quality at the lowest cost possible.

5. Education

Finally, education is the key driver for change within an organisation. Even if the results are less tangible, investing in educating your teams will reap benefits in the long term. A culture of change and learning is paramount to delivering quality procurement.

Barbara Guignard is a principal at global procurement consultancy Efficio.

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