2 | JUNE 2014 | FOOD & BEVERAGE REPORTER www.fbreporter.com
o reach economic stability,
emerging markets in Asia,
including Thailand, need to
concentrate on consumer-led growth
by increasing domestic demand
and investment while fixing income
inequality and the imbalance in resource
distribution, according to academics and
economists,”The Nation commented in
January this year.
Cut and paste, replace Asia with
Africa and it sounds like a cure-all for of
Africa’s, or even just South Africa’s, ills.
What interests me is the focal
‘consumer-led’hook of this statement.
Today it is the consumer who is all
powerful and his/her individual choices
may be as unique as a fingerprint,
making consumer profiling that
much harder for those who put these
findings together in insightful research
So who is today’s consumer? Let’s,
for argument’s sake, say that consumers
of the modern age are health conscious,
environmentally aware and morally and
Last month, I attended the AGM
of the Glass Recycling Co where Marco
Lotz, a sustainability carbon specialist at
Nedbank, gave an address and suggested
that the consumer of today is moved by
carbon footprint. He affirmed the notion
that ‘consumers dictate business’but
poked at the collective consciousness
when he said there had been a currency
conversion. But he was not talking rand-
dollar or pound sterling-yen.
Our conversion, he said, was, for
an audience as green-attuned as we
were, becoming a calorie-to-carbon
conversion. Historically our buying
decision was based on price and the
rand was our currency. When we took a
closer at food products, calories became
the determinant of whether or not they
would land up in our shopping trolleys.
It won’t be long now, according to
Lotz, that consumers and companies
will be making purchase and business
decisions based on a company’s carbon
That being said, it’s not for everyone.
Calculating carbon footprint is not for
the feint-hearted and cannot be done
without an actuarial science degree or
advanced mathematical abilities. And
it will be a long time before a consumer
can just read it off a product label.
But there’s no denying that movies
like ‘An Inconvenient Truth’(Al Gore’s
persistent plugging of environmental
issues) and the very real experiences
of some horrific weather patterns, are
making carbon consciousness much
more palatable and a less likely issue
to choke over.
If follows then that in business-to-
business transactions, CEOs, MDs and
other decision makers will consider
a company’s green status before
agreeing to conduct business with it.
This is likely to apply to suppliers and
Much like BEE and then BBBEE,
it may become part of the scorecard
when awarding tenders.
So if the new consumer - individual
or business - is counting carbons
(not carbs) we’re all in for a currency
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