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Get ahead with sustainability

This week, Anna Rahikainen from Kotipizza Group talks about how sustainability can and should be turned into a profitable mode of business.

Consumers today opt increasingly for sustainable products and services. The trend is particularly strong in industries like food manufacturing that has witnessed the rise in popularity of plant protein, organic edibles and locally sourced goods.

Too many companies still perceive sustainability as a burden rather than a business opportunity. Subsequently, they don’t capitalise on it and contend with mere greenwashing that can quickly go sour.

However, companies can gain a real competitive edge by making their business greener. Finnish pizza chain Kotipizza did this by overhauling its strategy, brand and concept. We set out to ‘make the world a better place one pizza at a time’, anchored all operations in responsibility and invested in responsibly produced, Finnish ingredients.

The bold new direction brought the stuffy fast food joint to the 21st century, differentiated it from competitors – and evidently appealed to consumers, as can be seen from organically growing sales figures.

In 2016, a Finnish movement called Sipsikaljavegaanit (‘Crisps and beer vegans’) started demanding vegan fast food options and built major momentum in social media. Kotipizza spotted a niche and launched vegan pizzas, and online sales of vegetarian options quickly skyrocketed.

Recently, Kotipizza became the first pizza chain in the world to merit the Marine Stewardship Council’s ecolabel for serving only sustainably sourced fish and seafood. By getting certifications like the MSC, companies set new standards for responsibility in the globalised market, attract foreign investors and even pave way for international expansion. When seeking growth, no company can afford to fall behind in sustainability.

As environmental issues escalate, consumers are bound to pay more attention to sustainability in their choices. This creates a gap in the market that more Finnish companies should explore. In sustainability, local can be a trailblazer too.

Published on 11.05.2017