John Grant, marketing expert and author of The Green Marketing Manifesto, said that the hype of greenwashing was now over, although the recession had brought thrift and economy to the fore, forcing companies to cut excess and slimline waste. However, he said that the uptake of 'luxury' sustainable choices, such as organic, had fallen.
Grant said coordinated and corporate action was now needed to effect change and noted there had been a shift in the agenda, with a growing notion of responsibility, which he said was a more grounded way to proceed than the early greenwashing of the mid-1990s.
He added that the growing availability of information would transform the way firms work, and that technology and smartphone apps could be used by consumers in future to check on their food's climate-friendly credentials. "We increasingly live in an age of transparency," he said, "and, in five years, the consumer will have full traceability and [business] will do things that the consumer would like to be done."
The biggest sustainable gains, he said, were available through improvements to shipping efficiency for example, using technology to improve ships and using radio frequency identification technology (RFID) to prevent food spoilage through transport and shipping. He pointed out that more food was wasted between farm and retail than between retail and the consumer.
"Set a big enough stretch goal," he said, "and it will fire the internal system to match the goal through innovation."