- Nestlé USA, Unilever, Danone North America and Mars — as the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance — are lobbying the federal government to set a price on carbon, according to Fast Company.
- The group wants such a policy to be aligned with the 2015 Paris Agreement to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. They are also asking the government to speed up clean energy projects, work with agriculture and forestry to establish incentives to reduce emissions, invest in better infrastructure and encourage equity.
- "We know we can’t solve these systemic issues on our own, so we work with other large corporations, as we do with the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance, to use our collective leadership to drive more powerful change at a quicker pace," Stefani Millie, senior manager of external affairs and sustainability for Unilever North America, told Fast Company.
By taking an active lobbying role on a call to set a price for carbon, the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance could potentially speed up the creation of federal climate policies. By combining their efforts, the four major food companies have more traction as legislators are up against a combined annual revenue of more than $200 billion, according to The Washington Post. Their stances could have a significant ripple effect in the industry with both legislation and among smaller businesses who follow in their footsteps.
Since forming last summer, the group has worked collectively on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, limiting environment impacts, reducing sodium and achieving more responsible marketing and transparency. It also plans to work with the USDA and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in shaping science-based recommendations on healthy diets and sustainable food systems for the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The environment is a growing concern among consumers, and many manufacturers know they need to shift approaches to remain relevant to changing attitudes. According to 2018 Nielsen data, consumers care a great deal about sustainability. Nearly half of those surveyed said they might alter their purchases to meet environmental standards, and their purchases of sustainable products were expected to hit $150 billion by 2021. Millennials in particular are interested in these items, Nielsen said, and they're liable to tell others about them on social media channels, giving the manufacturers involved a marketing advantage over competitors.
Food makers who step up and take action to improve their operational footprints and reduce emissions are more likely to win consumer trust and loyalty — and some have reported a resulting boost in sales.
However, the alliance is clear there's only so much four food makers can do as individual companies, and that what's needed is faster action on the federal level. If the group is successful in helping to move federal policy action forward on a carbon pricing system and other goals included in its Climate Policy Principles, members may achieve extra credibility and green points with consumers and simultaneously aid the environment and their own operations.