Can businesses sustain becoming more sustainable?

23.11.2022
The Marketing Team
Agriculture
Andy Wood

Andy Wood OBE, Chief Executive of Adnams, is to speak at the Norfolk Farming Conference on 30th November at the Norfolk Showground.

Andy Wood

“We have to be building resilience, robustness and anti-fragility into our systems…we need to take some bold steps.”

Andy Wood is the man in charge of taking Suffolk-based Adnams, a firm celebrating 150 years, into the future in terms of carbon reduction and caring for the environment.

While meeting these challenges is essential, what is the impact on a brand steeped in history?

Mr Wood said: “I'm going to be talking at the Norfolk Farming Conference about Adnams’ journey regarding sustainability and carbon reduction. And that stems from our three basic principles: our concern for the natural environment, the built environment and the social environment.

“We at Adnams have a very clear purpose around that and a very clear set of values. We've got tangible investments that we've made that show we're committed to doing this.

“Those tangible investments over the years have been in our distribution centre, our brewery and our distillery. We've built assets and properties with sustainable features in them but I'm also going to talk about what that means for the brand, how we've communicated that as part of the brand story and where we're going to take it in the future.

“We are probably halfway towards being net zero by 2030. Then there is also the positive work we do with our farming and land-based partners.

“All of our barley comes from Norfolk and Suffolk; the bulk comes from Holkham – we have worked with the Estate for more than 10 years. We have these long-term commitments not only in how we run our own business, but in the partnerships we have in our supply chain.

“As a business, it is our belief that you need to enter into long term contracts with other businesses which match your values and objectives.

“With Holkham, although we are two different businesses, we are absolutely aligned with what we are each trying to do and in our approach to quality and the environment.

“We're doing this because this year, Adnams celebrates its 150th anniversary. And whilst we've got the letters PLC after our name and we have a public listing, we are essentially a family-owned business.

“So, the people around us want us to take this long-term view to life so that the business is potentially around for another 150 years. You know, there may be events that happen that mean it can't be because the climate changes to such an extent. But that's why we are really taking seriously our response to climate change. We at Adnams are an inter-generational business much like farms.”

So how has Adnams demonstrated its commitment to carbon reduction and the environment?

“We’ve made big changes, for example in our environmentally friendly distribution centre building in Reydon, near Southwold, which is made from a wooden frame and has a sedum roof. The building effectively sequesters carbon from the atmosphere aided by its thermal efficiency and hemp and lime walls .

“Our brewery has heat and water recovery systems within it to capture both for reuse and to limit our water usage.

“The brewery recovers more than 90% of the steam it produces and converts it back into heat for the next batch – helping us save millions of litres of water every year.

“We've also started running some of our vehicles on hydrogenated vegetable oil.”

However, there is a cost implication for businesses implementing such measures – and this for many firms can be a major hurdle.

Mr Wood said: “When we built our distribution centre back in 2006, it was probably 20% more expensive because of the environmental features we put in.

“But if you consider that the cost of heating and cooling a building that size now with energy prices where they are, we are making profound savings.

“Our heat recovery system in the brewery cost us a seven-figure sum, but it saves us 30% of our energy bill every year.

“However, the cost-of-living crisis and the rising input costs are huge. And whilst we've got all those efficiencies in there, it's very, very challenging. So, for businesses that haven’t done that, it's going to be even more so.

“As a result of the shocks we've seen in the system, we must be building resilience, robustness and anti-fragility into our systems and that requires us to be bold and take some bold steps.

“These are extraordinary times but there is no doubt the investment that we at Adnams have made has meant that we have a hedge against what's going on.”

Andy Wood is a speaker at the Norfolk Farming Conference.

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