Why Sustainability needs to be a Category Management Capability

Category plans need to align and link to sustainability goals and targets or risk working against them. Charlie Derra explains why this is a key reason underpinning the need for Category Managers to understand sustainability goals and acquire the skills and knowledge to embed the targets in day to day decision making.

Retailers are setting targets

Most retailers are setting Net Zero targets and many have made a commitment to nature to meet the WWF Sustainability goals, halving the impact of UK baskets. All teams shaping what we see on shelf, creating and managing product propositions and influencing decisions need to have an understanding of these targets. Their decisions and direction must align to these goals on the route towards achieving them.

Sustainability as a Category Capability

Category Managers need new knowledge about the impacts of the food system on climate. They need the skills to analyse the situation and understand how the work they do can make a difference. Ultimately we need Category Managers to be able to use new skills, and knowledge of how they can make an impact to embed strategies working towards a more sustainable food system.

Build and expand current analytical skills

Category Managers are skilled at analysing a wealth of data, information, and insights to create plans and strategies. However, to stay ahead of the game, they need to broaden their capabilities to include a wider range of data and insights. For instance, they need to have a better understanding of waste throughout the value chain and its impact. As we move forward, carbon emissions will also take centre stage, with more emphasis on measuring and analysing emission data. Therefore, it’s crucial for Category Managers to expand their skills and knowledge base to stay relevant and effective in the ever-changing business landscape.


Sustainability is not a passing trend – it is here to stay. Companies that fail to prioritise sustainability risk falling behind, as retailers will soon demand that plans are underpinned by sustainable goals. Building sustainability into day to day plans and decision making will ensure category managers are ready for what is around the corner as these skills eventually need to become universal.


Spaces are filling fast, join us in May. We cannot compete on climate – food and drink businesses are trying to solve the same problems. Get informed, get inspired and embrace the changing face of category management. More info or enquire here.