It seems that these days, you can turn to any outlet of the industry and there you’ll find a pocket of budding initiatives with one goal in mind: sustainability. Across all sectors, companies are challenging themselves by adopting the wide array of practices that go hand-in-hand with sustainability. This is the latest focus for the wholesale bread provider, Tribeca Oven. This week, the company is initiating a sustainable flour program to support the farming community at large. I had the opportunity to speak with Tribeca Oven’s Senior Marketing Manager, Erica Elliott, in hopes of finding out what this monumental initiative means for the company.
“Tribeca Oven has always focused on providing clean label products, made with careful craftsmanship and attention to detail. What we put in our products is just as important as what we choose to leave out,” said Erica. “We understand that clean label definitions have been open for interpretation within the food industry as there are no federal standards of identification and/or regulation. For us, however, we have taken clean label to the next level by incorporating sustainability into our process. Clean products cannot just focus on what happens during manufacturing—we have to make sure we are being responsible in supporting environmental needs as well.”
When I asked how this new program will affect products, Erica noted that the only significant impact will be in supply security. The company is changing the way it procures access to wheat while simultaneously maintaining the customer experience. Consumers will enjoy the same high-quality products that they have for over three decades. The new flour program is Tribeca Oven’s unique take on implementing an influential industry trend.
“This effort is unique because it focuses on what happens outside our facilities, specifically the supply chain and source of our flour, all the way to the wheat field,” Erica explained. “We are supporting farmers and wheat acres enrolled in a nationally recognized sustainability program that generates continuous improvements across a variety of environmental indicators and positive economic outcomes for farmers.”
Tribeca Oven’s recent focus on sustainable wheat initiatives with farmers was a strategic one as it also looks to support other sectors of the industry.
“We decided to concentrate our efforts on wheat, since that is the number one ingredient used in our facility,” added Erica. “We wanted to discover how we could have an impact on the environment in a way that could be scaled up to match our usage. Finding avenues to support growth on a commercial scale can be a challenge—so, we worked with our vendors to find programs that would help farmers in areas we currently purchase from, to create more sustainable practices.”
Although the company’s initiative revolves around wheat, it also recognizes a need for supply chain-wide involvement in the movement toward a sustainable world.
“As an industry, we need to become more accountable for what happens at an ingredient level, throughout the production process, and after products ship. When we see the supply chain as the value chain, we can place more emphasis on the impact we are having on the environment and farming communities, even if it’s not directly in our facilities,” Erica said.
While these efforts are integral at the grower/shipper level, initiatives like that of Tribeca Oven provide opportunities for retailers as well.
“Customers are becoming interested in knowing how their purchases support and/or impact the environment. They also still want to know about GMOs, health considerations, and so much more. Retailers, particularly in the in-store bakery area where packaging information is minimal, should educate customers about their buying choices, and the sustainability initiatives associated with the products they carry,” Erica told me. “Whether through video, in-store signage, and/or social media efforts, customers are seeking ways to more deeply engage throughout the buying process. Retailers can take our sustainability messages and share them with their customers to help raise awareness.”
Erica noted that this is just the beginning of sustainability initiatives to come from Tribeca Oven. Last week the company launched a video to divulge the details of its new initiative. For more unique ways that industry experts are implementing sustainable practices, keep reading Deli Market News.