- Ingredion is partnering with technology company HowGood to measure the sustainability of 50 ingredients on the Illinois company’s strategic growth platform.
- A scorecard assessing eight sustainability metrics for each ingredient, including greenhouse gas emissions, processing, water usage, soil health, land use and labor risk will be made by the end of this year. Ingredion said the partnership will provide transparency for its customers and help the company meet its own sustainability goals.
- CPGs are increasingly incorporating sustainability into their business practices to meet growing demand from consumers who want to know how and where the foods they buy and consume are produced. A key part of reducing a manufacturer’s environmental footprint focuses on the ingredients in their foods and beverages.
A major criticism levied against CPGs when it comes to improving their sustainability is that it’s hard to measure the progress they make. Ingredion is taking that head-on by working with HowGood and its database to meet customer demands for sustainable ingredients.
Brian Nash, vice president of corporate sustainability at Ingredion, said there is growing demand from regulators and companies that buy their ingredients for more transparency. He said the pandemic has caused companies and investors to “double down on sustainability.”
By partnering with HowGood, Ingredion can provide third-party validation of the sustainability impact of its ingredients. Buyers can then use that information when deciding what ingredients to buy and whom to buy them from.
“We're doing it because it's the right thing to do, but also because we think it's going to be a driver of growth in our business," Nash said.
Each of the 50 ingredients will be given a sustainability score of up to 100. Other attributes will also be listed, like if an ingredient is clean label or minimally processed.
The scorecard will make it easier for buyers of Ingredion's products to understand the impact of each ingredient, enabling them to make an informed decision factoring in both environmental and social impact considerations.
For example, a buyer might identify an ingredient that would improve its sustainability by reducing its carbon footprint. However, it may come from a region with potential human rights challenges or require a lot of water to grow.
“Sustainability decisions are complex,” Nash said. “It’s never just as simple as one question. Even when they focus on one thing, there’s always other considerations.”
In addition to providing transparency to ingredient buyers, Ingredion said the partnership is well aligned with its other sustainability goals. These include having 99% of its global crop supply and 100% of the company’s Tier 1 crops (corn, tapioca, potato, stevia and pulses) sustainably sourced by 2025. Nash said Ingredion will use the scorecard to help it develop new ingredients or look for ways throughout its supply chain to improve existing ones.
He conceded once the scorecard comes out, a customer could learn a particular ingredient doesn’t perform as well as they thought, or isn’t aligned with their vision for the brand, and decide to stop using it. Still, Nash said, the benefits will outweigh any risks.
“Ultimately, I think that will serve our business relationship,” Nash said. “We're hoping that by kind of opening up the store behind the scenes that we're encouraging people to say ‘OK, [Ingredion is] the kind of company we want to partner with. ’ "
HowGood got its start working with grocery retailers, creating shelf tags to indicate which products were most sustainable. More recently, it’s broadened its platform to evaluate more than 33,000 ingredients, chemicals and materials, and now works with CPG and QSR brands as well.