GreenAroundTheGlobe - Part 6

Touring a Green Bakery

by Keith on December 6, 2010 · 2 comments

After 13 years living in Philadelphia, there are a couple of local specialties I have come to love.  I even promoted one of my favorites, scrapple (a delicious Pennsylvania Dutch breakfast meat), as we traveled.  With room for only three t-shirts in my backpack, I purposely chose one from my favorite restaurant in Reading Terminal Market, Down Home Diner, that promotes eating more scrapple.  Below is a snapshot of me in my scrapple-promoting shirt on the banks of the Nile River in Luxor, Egypt.

So while I may have grown up in Cincinnati eating Little Debbie’s in my lunches, once I got to Philadelphia I had no choice but to embrace Tastykakes.  I am especially fond of the fruit pies, but the chocolate cupcakes are delicious with a glass of milk.  So when I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to tour the new Green Tastykake bakery in the Navy Yard I jumped at the chance.  The private tour for the Philadelphia Harvard and Wharton Alumni associations, was led by Autumn R. Bayles, Senior Vice President – Strategic Operations.

Autumn led us from the spacious new lobby to the mezzanine level that is designed to eventually allow the public to tour and view the workings of the bakery.  And while they do not allow pictures of the great overhead views you get of the machines and bakery operations, there are great signs and multi-media displays discussing the history of the company in Philadelphia and the Green aspects of the building.   It reminded me of the SPAM Museum we visited as we traveled through Minnesota earlier this year.  Both brands have very loyal followings and have tapped into that consumer passion by celebrating their products and brands.

After touring the bakery and seeing how Tastykake is strategically using their sustainability practices to guide capital investments and their marketing on packaging, and how Tastykake is increasing transparency to consumers (despite the prohibition of pictures on the mezzanine), it is clear that they understand how to use sustainability as a way to drive their business and their brand.  When they do open the bakery to the public, I recommend a trip down to the Navy Yard to check out the bakery and have lunch at URBN’s public cafeteria.

Key Tastycake Bakery Green Features:

  • Targeting LEED-Silver certification, awaiting USGBC final certification.
  • A white, reflective roof, which minimizes heat-absorbing surfaces that contribute to global warming.
  • No-mow, drought-resistant grass that uses less water.
  • All wood doors and half of the wood used in the building come from certified sustainable sources that work to conserve trees.
  • Paints and carpeting with low chemical content that reduce ear, nose and throat irritation.
  • Refrigeration equipment using environmentally friendly refrigerants to minimize emissions that contribute to global warming.
  • Heat-recycling system, which reduces the amount of energy needed to produce products.
  • All products are packed in recyclable cartons and cases to save trees.
  • Solar panels on the roof that provide power to several of the building’s systems.

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A Year’s Difference in Thanksgiving Meals

by Keith on November 27, 2010 · 1 comment

Being back home certainly has some advantages.  One of the best is sharing holidays, like Thanksgiving, with family and friends.  We were certainly quite thankful to spend Thanksgiving  with them this year vs. being 6,000 miles away in the Jordanian desert.  When we were in Petra, Jordan, on what to everyone else it was just another Thursday night, we found ourselves spending half the night struggling to find something that was not made from chickpeas to eat for dinner and end up settling for a chicken kebap sandwich, because we realized it was about as close to turkey as we were going to get.

Another lesson I have taken away from our trip is to appreciate the vast variety of food available to people in the developed world.   Because I have always had nearly any cuisine imaginable close at hand, I did not appreciate what variety my palate craves until we had spent two months in the Middle East, eating a variation of some kind of chickpea spread, pita bread or kepab at nearly every meal.  And while many of these dishes were delicious, I challenge any Westerner to eat the same 3-4 dishes for every meal, including breakfast, for two months and then on Thanksgiving not go a little crazy looking for something different and traditionally American.

Being home this year did not disappoint.  We had quite the spread at two family gatherings in New York.  The first was in New York City and the second was a short Metro North ride north to the town of Irvington.  The picture to the left is just a glimpse of the traditional and variety packed gastronomic delights that awaited our first major holiday since our return home.

What strange stand-ins for traditional foods have you made while traveling abroad on American holidays?   What lengths did you go to secure a suitable substitute?  Let’s hear it in the comments.

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Sustainability and Beer

by Keith on November 22, 2010 · 5 comments

Both sustainability and beer were critical aspects of our trip.  Sustainability is, after all, the professional reason for the trip, what we plan on doing with our careers now that we’ve returned.  Beer was a necessary and enjoyable diversion along the way.

In fact, I managed to sample 63 international brews from Efes in Turkey to Murray’s Whale Ale in Australia.  Many of them were cold, refreshing and quite nice, but some, like Sakkara Gold in Egypt, were quite bad.  I did manage to get pictures of many of them along the way.   The documentation of the labels alone is worthy of a presentation.  (BTW – if there are any companies out there looking to tap my expertise in this area I am happy to discuss!)

Before we dive into the recent opportunity I had to combine both sustainability and beer here in Philly, below is a slide show of the beers I had while traveling.  The “*” captions are rating system from *= “wow, I want my money back” to **** = “amazing, are you exporting to the US yet,  and if not do you want to?”

With that background, it should come as no surprise that when I found out that the Wharton Alumni Club of Philadelphia was hosting an event at Yards Brewery I was probably the first one to sign up.   In addition to having quite tasty beer, Yards is Pennsylvania’s first 100% wind-powered brewery.

My take away from the event, which included tastings and a brewery tour, is that Yards has implemented a laundry list of sustainability tactics including:

Bowling Alley Bar

  • Bar tops are reclaimed bowling alley lanes.
  • Floors are made from recycled concrete and coated in SoyCrete sustainable compound.
  • All fixtures, furniture and equipment are reclaimed.
  • T-shirts and hats are created from organic cotton.
  • All glass and cardboard is recycled through the Pedal Co-Op.
  • Grains are donated to local farms as feed.
  • Yards cases are printed using 65% post-consumer recycled cardboard at a local SFI-certified manufacturer.

And while all of these tactical efforts are to be applauded, when asked about what their commitment to being a “lean, green, brewing machine” has done to help with their marketing or sales there was no clear answer.  What was offered up was that Tom Kehoe, the founder, is now able to speak to it in talks and meetings, as well as the staff promoting it on tours like the one I was on.  It is a shame in a way. If Yards is implementing a more comprehensive sustainability strategy there are significant opportunities to secure relevant certifications and awards such as ISO 14000 or LEED Certification for their newly constructed brewery, just to name a few.

Also, other than a small section on the website, buried on the “Tours” page, there is no proactive marketing of the efforts being undertaken.  More importantly, Yards is not necessarily benefiting from the costs being incurred to implement these tactical efforts.  One that I saw while on the tour was that Yards is using Organic Sugar as an ingredient, and while there is a significant price premium on this ingredient, there is no mention of its use in the beer or a larger commitment to the use of organic ingredients.

I am sure that some of Yards’ strategies result in reduced energy costs and that is a great initial motivation. But unless you have a strategy to capitalize of the investment in terms of differentiated marketing, new products or industry certifications or awards, it will remain a list of tactical feel-good efforts.  And unfortunately they will likely lose momentum, as there is no larger goal that the company appears to be striving towards.

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