Talking shop with… Jyoti Stephens

The director of sustainability and stewardship for Nature’s Path Foods discusses how eco-friendly packaging can benefit retailers and consumers.

Tell us about your sustainable packaging initiatives?
Jyoti Stephens: At Nature’s Path, we endeavor to minimize our ecological footprint while striving to maintain social, environmental and financial integrity in everything we do.

We are committed to sustainability and showing leadership through constant innovation, efficiency and waste reduction. Our cross-departmental Packaging Committee has representatives from Marketing, Operations, Supply Chain and Research and Development that systematically look at new packaging opportunities. Our focus is on source reduction, packaging innovation and reviewing new greener materials.

We offer many of our cereals in innovative, eco-friendly packaging alternatives that benefit the environment as well as the customer. Our Eco-Pacs, for example, are large bulk-size cereals in stand up re-sealable bags that use up to 66% less packaging than conventional cardboard packaging. Packing our products in this way saves significant amounts of paperboard, energy and waste water each year and even allows us to take tractor trailers off the road.

What results have you had to date?
Through our focus on sustainability, we’ve been able to achieve some great successes. When it comes to packaging, we have a cross-departmental team that have really come together to green our packaging by:

  • Using FSC certified paperboard for all carton packaging;
  • Reducing granola cereal packaging by 10%;
  • Reconfiguring our Eco Pacs to stand up on shelf and further reduce their packaging by 10%, which equates to 1,389,232 fewer pounds of Co2 in the environment yearly; and
  • Reducing total granola bar packaging by 29% and the paperboard box by 36%, which saves 472,000 gallons of water and 46 tons of waste yearly. The saving is an equivalent of about 1,028 trees per year and 11,575 pounds of plastic.

How do these efficiencies benefit the retailer?
The repackaging has not only been successful in terms of furthering our commitment to the environment, but has also resulted in a substantial increase in sales. Since the re-launch of our granola bar packaging, our granola bar sales have more than tripled in Walmart across all flavor profiles showing that less can sometimes really equal more. Our new reduced packaging size also improves retail shelf efficiency by 11%.

Tell us about the current state of the category?
As North America’s largest organic cereal producer, we have been growing continuously for last 10 years, growing on average 25% to 30% for the past number of years, outpacing organic category growth.  In 2009 we saw category growth flatten with the recession and in 2010, we are starting to see a turn around.

A lot of this rebound has to do with catering to consumers’ sense of value while maintaining our core sustainability and taste messaging.

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