Ben & Jerry's is one of the most innovative and successful ice cream brands on the market today. The Vermont-based company is a Certified B Corp, or Benefit Corporation, which means making a positive impact, socially and environmentally, is a driving force behind most of its operations, Forbes contributor Steve Banker noted.
Now, the company has teamed up with Green America to help increase the number of sustainable, non-GMO supply chains throughout America, Banker reported.
However, given how logistics infrastructures along industry supply chains operate, this project is expected to be far from easy.
Complex infrastructure of dairy supply chains
Successful non-GMO supply chains require extensive verification inspections throughout every phase of operations. From choosing the appropriate storage container sizes to effectively sanitizing transportation vehicles, every detail matters.
And it could be costly. Ben & Jerry's Social Mission Strategy and Policy Manager Andy Barker told Forbes contributor Banker that he believes it is not the verification procedures that will require the most spend but, rather, segregating all non-GMO products along the supply chain to absolutely avoid contamination.
In addition, it is relatively difficult to find commodity crops in the United States that haven't been modified in any way, the source noted. Even marshmallows, commonly used in the ice cream products, sometimes add corn syrup to enhance the sweetness. If corn syrup is used, the corn must be sourced from non-GMO seeds.
Ben & Jerry's doesn't just have to be careful about what it gives consumers to eat, either. It also has to closely monitor and regulate ingredients consumed by its dairy cows, a process, the company itself has admitted, that is far from perfected.
Developing GMO-free supply chains throughout the U.S.
Optimizing operations in a way is a constant battle for any manufacturer or distributor. Sometimes a company simply does not possess the resources or know-how to manage logistics on its own.
Enter Green America. Last month, the organization announced the launch of its Center for Sustainability Solutions, which was created to help promote greener supply chain management.
"Green America is an indispensable partner in Ben & Jerry's efforts to find whole system solutions to the task of rebuilding non-GMO supply chains in the U.S.," Barker said in a statement. "Their unique skills and experience in working with multiple stakeholders has accelerated and deepened our ability to drive change inside and outside our company. We are excited to continue working with the Green America team as they launch the Center for Sustainability Solutions."
Rebuilding supply chains require an "all hands on deck" approach and will likely only become easier if and when clear, substantial industry standards and regulations are set. Also imperative to success, Barker added, will be convincing key players involved in operations that non-GMO products are a valuable commodity.
Though this is a debate with no real winner yet, Barker believes statistics are very telling. In the Forbes article by Banker, he referenced a Hartman Group report, which revealed 40 percent of consumers are actively avoiding or reducing genetically modified organisms in their diets.
The process of creating eco-friendly supply chains for food products is tedious and complex. But, as Ben & Jerry's sees it, it also completely necessary.