All Articles Food CPG How the CPG industry prioritizes sustainable ingredient sourcing

How the CPG industry prioritizes sustainable ingredient sourcing

CPG manufacturers and suppliers are focusing on ethical sourcing of raw materials, sustainable agriculture practices, innovative food technologies and overall supply chain transparency.

4 min read


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The consumer packaged goods industry is increasingly prioritizing the sustainability of its ingredient supply to meet consumer demands and ensure long-term environmental stewardship. The “Farming for the Future” report by ADM reveals that 70% of US consumers expect companies to source ingredients sustainably, and over 65% are more likely to purchase such products. To meet those consumer desires, CPG manufacturers and suppliers are focusing on ethical sourcing of raw materials, sustainable agriculture practices, innovative food technologies and overall supply chain transparency.

Sustainable sourcing becomes essential

Sustainability has become a central pillar of corporate strategy in the CPG industry, and ingredient sourcing is a key part of that strategy. ADM is among the many companies prioritizing transparency and traceability throughout its supply chain so that its products meet standards and comply with policies to ensure the protection of the environment and human rights.

“Our strategic plan of sustainable growth leverages the trends and technologies in sustainability to help us expand and create value for our stakeholders,” said Michelle French, director of global sustainability programs at ADM.

The food processor has conducted third-party evaluations to identify the sustainability areas most important to industry stakeholders, has made plans to meet the Science-based Targets Initiative’s target-setting criteria for emissions reduction and greatly expanded its regenerative agriculture efforts.

Regenerative agriculture aligns with consumer desires

ADM’s initiatives in regenerative agriculture exemplify how companies are addressing environmental impacts at the source. The company collects on-farm data from its suppliers to verify sustainable practices because “regenerative agriculture starts with the farmer, as they are the stewards of the land,” said French.

She also shared that “ADM defines regenerative agriculture as an outcome-based farming approach that protects and improves soil health, biodiversity, climate and water resources while supporting farming business development.”

The program—which engaged over 2.8 million acres and 28,000 growers in 2023—reduced Scope 3 emissions by 310,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent. This approach not only supports environmental goals but also aligns with consumer expectations for sustainably sourced ingredients.

Innovations in cultivated meat

The rise of cultivated meat is one of the most promising developments in sustainable food production. At scale, this production process could use up to 90% less land and emit up to 92% fewer greenhouse gases than traditional beef production, according to a study by The Good Food Institute.

Cultivated meat brand UPSIDE Foods is a pioneer in the category, and the company is committed to finding efficiencies for its bioprocesses and reducing costs to create a sustainable food source at scale.

“Building our product from the cell up allows us to optimize for sustainability in every aspect of our process – from cell growth optimization to supply chain and energy usage enhancements,” said Brooke Whitney, UPSIDE’s communication lead.

Despite some regulatory challenges, UPSIDE is striving to educate consumers on the sustainability benefits of its products. The brand has offered public tours of its California facility and tasting samples at restaurants and events.

“Ultimately, it’s about bringing consumers along on the journey with us and providing updates as we make progress toward our impact goals,” Whitney added.

Supply chain policy support is vital

Achieving sustainable sourcing for CPG industry stakeholders can be challenging due to regulatory hurdles. Tom Madrecki, vice president of campaigns & special projects for the Consumer Brands Association, emphasizes the need for supportive policies to overcome obstacles to sustainability. 

“Companies are investing in new tools and technology to achieve greater supply chain transparency and to better map and monitor supply chains to promote socially responsible supply chains,” said Madrecki. “Consumer Brands is engaged across intersecting supply chain policy issues that will impact what’s possible.”

The association has also long advocated for the establishment of a federal Office of Supply Chain to provide dedicated expertise and situational awareness, ensuring smoother and more sustainable supply chains. Such initiatives are vital for maintaining the resilience and sustainability of the industry’s vast and complex supply networks.

“Now’s the time to finally address this critical policymaking need and help to secure supply chains for the long haul,” Madrecki asserted.

The path toward ingredient sustainability is paved with both challenges and opportunities. CPG manufacturers’ commitment to sustainable sourcing, despite regulatory and supply chain hurdles, reflects a broader recognition of the need for environmental stewardship and corporate responsibility. Continued collaboration between industry players, policymakers and consumers will be crucial in advancing sustainable practices across the industry.

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