Coca-Cola and Cranfield University develop six themes for future sustainable manufacturing


A white paper from Coca-Cola Enterprises and Cranfield University has set out six themes that will shape sustainable manufacturing in the food and drink industry.

Sustainable Manufacturing for the Future investigates the challenges and opportunities the food and drink industry needs to address to achieve rapid and fundamental change.


The report was compiled following an initial roundtable event held in March this year, which saw academics and industry experts discuss the key topics impacting the sustainability of the food and drink industry today and in the future.

From these discussion, the full report was compiled, which suggested:

  • People are core to enacting change and must be engaged, well-trained, flexible and skilled. Sustainable business must focus on their staff as well as potential new recruits, customers and suppliers.
  • Big data will play an ever more important role in organisations and society as a whole. Products and outputs will begin to be increasingly tailored to customer preferences, which can be tracked through the effective capturing and use of consumer data.
  • Technology may not be the sole solution to a more sustainable future. The rise of big data and a shift away from globalisation could lead to some radical innovations. Technology will play a vital part, but it must support new ways of working. 
  • Collaboration will develop into a more symbiotic relationship between a company and its supply chain, with more involvement with local communities. Equally, knowledge sharing and collaboration between competitors to reduce resource use and waste will become key.
  • Value will have a fundamental impact on what resources are used – encompassing high standards, convenience, trust and doing good for human kind as well as the environment  as consumers become increasingly concerned about the traceability of products and the value of waste. Developing circularity in how a business controls its resources will become prominent. The servitisation and the adaptability of products that can be used beyond their intended purpose to deliver ‘value beyond profit’ will grow.
  • Resilience – the ability to adapt to change and to do so at speed will be key to future decision-making, as businesses seek to maintain a supply of quality, ethically-sourced raw materials. Flexibility and transparency in both sustainable manufacturing and the supply chain will be vital in delivering this.


These six themes will now set the agenda for the next phase of the collaboration between Coca-Cola Enterprises and Cranfield, with a second white paper that will expand on these themes set for publication later in the year.

Coca-Cola Enterprises GB group director of supply chain operations Steve Adams said: “At Coca-Cola Enterprises, we take our responsibilities in the future of manufacturing extremely seriously.

“When it comes to tackling the fundamental issues impacting sustainability in the manufacturing industry, collaboration is key, which is why we are excited to have embarked on this research partnership with Cranfield University and continue to involve our industry peers.

“Today’s white paper marks the first step in unlocking the future of sustainable manufacturing, and we look forward to exploring the themes in even more depth to identify the most important ideas and innovations which will help to progress and improve our industry.”