Writing In Notebook 6436d69610ccf

Editor's Plate: Two Things I Learned at Natural Products Expo West

April 12, 2023
‘Greenhushing’ can keep you from doing the right thing; Unstuck asks you to do more.

As I say every year, Natural Products Expo West (NPEW) is my favorite food show of the year. I just returned from that March madness, and we have a nice story on the show and the state of the natural products "industry,"

In addition to the pure fun of walking aisles filled with such energized companies and sampling hundreds of novel products, I always seem to learn something from the show. Following are two of the more interesting subjects I picked up at this year's NPEW.

You remember "greenwashing"? I hope you've never been accused of it. Now we have "greenhushing."

A few years ago, greenwashing entered the vernacular following a period when it seemed every company was making some sustainability claim, many of them commendable but some unsubstantiated. Claims of greenwashing held companies accountable for the claims they made.

This year at NPEW, I was introduced to the term greenhushing. It's a self-imposed problem, one in which companies are hesitant to publicize their progress on sustainability goals for fear of having it overly scrutinized, picked apart to the point that their claims look like greenwashing. It’s a double-edged sword: Nobody wants meaningless claims made just for public relations value, but neither should legitimate good works go unpublicized just for fear of unfair scrutiny. And face it: In this marketing-driven world, if some companies can't boast about something, they may not do it, even if it is for the greater good.

While greenhushing may seem like a viable option to avoid scrutiny, it will have a detrimental impact on the food & beverage industry's collective progress toward a more sustainable future. Companies need to share their wins – and losses – to learn from each other.

"Third-party verification is one way to regain confidence when communicating progress, as it helps to prove the improvements being made," says LRQA, which is such a third-party certifier.

We'll do an indepth story about greenhushing next month.

The other novelty I came across was Unstuck, an initiative by the Tent Partnership for Refugees, which itself is doing commendable work in finding jobs for refugees within its member companies – and there are several food & beverage companies on that list.

The group's Unstuck project asks companies to look beyond their own plants to their supply chains. Part of the refugee problem is not within our borders; the majority of refugees, the organization claims, are "stuck" in developing countries like Colombia, Peru, Jordan and Turkey, which are key sourcing markets for many brands.

So while some leading global brands have been doing commendable work hiring refugees in their own plants (Chobani at the forefront), many more could help chip away at this global problem by sourcing ingredients from suppliers that employ refugees.

"There’s no donation, no tax write-offs, no misleading marketing campaigns. We’re using the tools that we have to work with to make the refugee crisis less of a crisis," says Unstuck's website. "We’re meeting people where they are, doing the things they’re already doing to maximize the impact, not change their behavior.

"A job is an opportunity for those displaced to put down roots. To unlock their potential and support themselves and their families. To contribute to a new community that becomes their own."

Chobani and La Colombe Coffee Roasters shared their connected booths at NPEW with representatives of Unstuck, and Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya made an appearance wearing an Unstuck baseball cap in support.

It certainly sounds like a wonderful thing to do, and then share (not greenhush) to your ESG report. Maybe Unstuck will even send you a baseball cap.

About the Author

Dave Fusaro | Editor in Chief

Dave Fusaro has served as editor in chief of Food Processing magazine since 2003. Dave has 30 years experience in food & beverage industry journalism and has won several national ASBPE writing awards for his Food Processing stories. Dave has been interviewed on CNN, quoted in national newspapers and he authored a 200-page market research report on the milk industry. Formerly an award-winning newspaper reporter who specialized in business writing, he holds a BA in journalism from Marquette University. Prior to joining Food Processing, Dave was Editor-In-Chief of Dairy Foods and was Managing Editor of Prepared Foods.

Sponsored Recommendations

Learn About: Micro Motion™ 4700 Config I/O Coriolis Transmitter

An Advanced Transmitter that Expands Connectivity

Micro Motion™ G-Series Coriolis Flow and Density Meter

Micro Motion G-Series: market-leading compact design featuring advanced process diagnostic capability.

Embracing Sustainability using Advanced Measurement Instrumentation

A practical guide to greeningyour brewing operationsusing advanced measurementinstrumentation.

Get Hands-On Training in Emerson's Interactive Plant Environment

Enhance the training experience and increase retention by training hands-on in Emerson's Interactive Plant Environment. Build skills here so you have them where and when it matters...