State Teams with Vermont Specialty Food Manufacturers to Accelerate Sustainability

01 August 2019

Montpelier – If you want to see the future of Vermont’s economy, look no further than the state’s local food industry. With 50% growth from 2006-2016, Vermont entrepreneurs are starting new specialty food businesses and creating a name for Vermont products across the US and beyond. Specialty food manufacturers transform high-quality ingredients into products like chocolates, freshly prepared foods, and specialty meats. Increasingly, customers are demanding sustainability as well as fine craftsmanship and quality. Several Vermont businesses are stepping up to the challenge to increase the sustainability of their operations by participating in the new Green Specialty Foods Cohort. The cohort is an initiative of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), in partnership with Efficiency Vermont, to support environmental excellence in Green Mountain State businesses. 

“When a business cuts down on the amount of waste it produces and uses natural resources like water more efficiently, we all benefit. Business sustainability is good for a company’s bottom line and it’s good for Vermont’s land and water. As part of the Cohort, participants will develop and implement solutions that improve their performance and inspire others to follow,” said DEC Commissioner Emily Boedecker.

For one year, Cohort participants will attend workshops where they can share information, learn about funding opportunities, access assistance to analyze and reduce energy use, and receive training on topics like wastewater pollution prevention. These resources will help members accelerate sustainability goals to reduce energy, trash, and water use. By making sustainability improvements, businesses can reap financial benefits through increased efficiency.

“Lake Champlain Chocolates has focused on improving the sustainability of our raw material supply chain for a number of years. Now it’s time to shift our focus to other inputs that make our chocolates so extraordinary. I’m excited to collaborate with other Vermont companies and discover new ways to make our business and the state in which we all live, more sustainable,” said Ellen Reed, Vice President of Lake Champlain Chocolates.

The Green Specialty Foods Cohort participants are:

Participation is free and open to any business in the specialty foods sector. DEC also supports brewery and dairy product manufacturer cohorts. The Cohorts are profiled in a new video by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which funds them through a Pollution Prevention grant. Burlington Electric Department is providing energy assistance for businesses located in Burlington. 

For more information, contact celia.riechel@vermont.gov or 802-477-2669, or visit dec.vermont.gov/environmental-assistance/sustainability/cohorts.