Original Research

Sustainable supply chain integration: An exploration of South African fast-moving consumer goods manufacturers

Sa'diyah Ebrahim, Wesley Niemann, Theuns Kotzé
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 25, No 1 | a4192 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v25i1.4192 | © 2022 Sa’diyah Ebrahim, Wesley Niemann, Theuns Kotzé | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 May 2021 | Published: 23 May 2022

About the author(s)

Sa'diyah Ebrahim, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Wesley Niemann, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Theuns Kotzé, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Manufacturers of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) are facing new challenges that compel them to outperform their competitors economically, and to consider environmental and social impacts. Customer demands regarding sustainability are channelled upstream to these manufacturers through retailers. This resulted in manufacturers being very conscious of the sustainability of their production processes, as well as their packaging. To that extent, FMCG manufacturers are encouraged to integrate sustainability, with other supply chain partners, to improve sustainability performance across the supply chain.

Aim: The purpose of this study is to explore the extent to which FMCG manufacturers in South Africa apply sustainability to their supply chain integration.

Setting: The study was conducted among South African FMCG manufacturers.

Method: The study applied a generic qualitative research design. Altogether 12 semi-structured interviews were conducted with middle to senior supply chain managers.

Results: Having a clear sustainability focus, supported by leadership and embedded into the corporate culture, is key to integrating sustainability internally and thus improving the sustainability performance. The findings indicate that customers do not pressure firms to adhere to their sustainability expectations. Instead, sustainability expectations are driven internally. Firms find it difficult to align the three sustainability aspects equally, due to the local variables and context in which they operate. Therefore, economic sustainability is considered most important and firms act on environmental and social sustainability aspects within strict economic constraints.

Conclusion: Academically, the study adds to the literature by creating an understanding of sustainable supply chain integration (SSCI) from a South African perspective. For practitioners, the study encourages firms to collaborate with supply chain partners on sustainability, as this opens up opportunities to create shared value through joint sustainability problem-solving.


Keywords

sustainable supply chain management; sustainable supply chain integration; fast-moving consumer goods industry; generic qualitative research; South Africa

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