Climate change on agenda at SupplySide West

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images
Getty Images

Related tags Climate change Sustainability Traceability Transparency Fair trade Carbon footprint

Climate change will be taking center stage at the upcoming SupplySide Trade show, and NutraIngredients-USA will be there to report about it.

A number of panels will take place at the show, put on the by the American Herbal Products Association in conjunction with the Sustainable Herbs Program, which is a part of the American Botanical Council, and a group called The Climate Collaborative.

Topic on every consumer’s mind

Climate change is the topic of the day, as a number of developments have come to a head at the same time. 

 The biggest news of course was the recent appearance of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg in New York at the United Nations’ Climate Action Summit. From an anonymous young person with a sign in Stockholm, Thunberg, 16, has in a bit more than a year gone to being probably the world’s best known person of her age. Her example has motivated tens of thousands of young people the world over to join in marches demanding government action on the issue. 

Grave findings in studies

Supporting the interest in Thunberg’s activities are a couple of recent studies that have raised alarm bells among climate researchers and biologists. For a number of years now climatologists have been cataloguing the steady rise of Earth’s average atmospheric temperatures and changes in things like sea ice coverage in the Arctic Ocean. Experts have been waiting for the other shoe to drop, and for these changes to start being reflected in the biosphere in a big way.

That now seems to be happening. Earlier this year the journal Biological Conservation​ published a study came out that detailed a very significant drop in insect populations​ in many parts of the globe. And more recently a study was published in Nature​ that used data from annual bird surveys conducted by bird watchers in North America.  The study found that there are almost 3 billion fewer birds on the continent now than there were in 1970s​, a drop of almost 30% overall.

So the issue seems clear, even if the climate change denial cadre is still active and vocal. The world’s environment is changing and that will affect us all. But what should the dietary supplement industry do about it? What can it do?

Three panels on subject

The first panel looking at this issue is scheduled for the afternoon of Thursday, October 17 from 4:30 to 5 pm.  It’s called Catalyzing Climate Change Action in the Health and Nutrition Industry.  Sara Newmark from MegaFood and Matt Dybala of Herb Pharm will look at how health and nutrition companies are making climate action core to their mission—through regenerative agricultural practices, waste reductions, and more—and how doing so has not only reduced these companies' climate impacts, but improved their business relationships with customers.

The second session, scheduled for Friday, Oct. 18 at 2 to 3 pm is titled Sourcing for Impact: Building Supply Chain Relationships that Boost the Environment & Business, will feature Josef Brinckmann of Traditional Medicinals, Rupa Das of BI Nutraceuticals, Ann Armbrecht of the Sustainable Herbs program and Holly Johnson of AHPA discuss the challenges and opportunities of cross-stakeholder collaboration in building sustainability into supply chain networks. 

In addition, on Saturday, Oct. 19 this reporter will moderate a session at AHPA’s Botanical Congress.  The session will feature presentations by Steve French of the Natural Marketing Institute as well as Yadim Medore of Pure Branding Inc.  The session will focus on how consumers see the climate change/sustainability question and delve into ways brands can cost effectively address these concerns.

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