- Gartner Inc. named four food and beverage manufacturers in its annual Supply Chain Top 25 list, which includes supply chain leaders across industries and identifies best practices among them.
- Unilever topped the list for the first time, likely boosted in rank by the addition of a corporate social responsibility (CSR) scoring component. This year, Gartner awarded points to companies that make their CSR reports available to the public, use accepted standards, and include third-party recognition of their social and environmental achievements.
- Other companies included in this list were Coca-Cola (No. 9), Nestle (No. 10), and PepsiCo (No. 15).
Without this year's CSR component, Gartner's rankings may have looked somewhat different, particularly for food and beverage companies. According to analysis from supply chain management solutions provider Kinaxis, without the CSR score, Coca-Cola and Nestle would have been pushed out of the Top 10, and Unilever would have dropped to No. 3.
Food and beverage companies are increasingly aware of their role in improving sustainability within supply chains. Sustainability can improve a company's reputation and often increases transparency, but it can also boost profit margins and the top line.
Unilever also recently topped Oxfam's list of the top 10 global food and beverage companies ranked for their sustainability efforts. This past year, the company made improvements to the treatment of women and water management categories, as scored by Oxfam.
In its 2014/2015 Sustainability Report, Coca-Cola addressed its efforts to achieve consistent safety and quality of products and practices across its supply chain, including the many bottling partners the company has since begun parting with. That includes the development of a supplier management program meant to identify and assess potential supplier risks and ensure ingredients and packaging meet certain standards. Coca-Cola has also been a leader in the development of sustainable plant-based packaging.
Last year's "Creating Shared Value" report from Nestle USA demonstrated progress the company had made on 99% of its objectives from 2013. That included surpassing some objectives, such as converting more than double its goal of plants into "zero waste to landfill" facilities — 25 factory conversions over the previous goal of 12. Nestle has also made commitments to reformulating more products with less salt, sugar, and saturated fats to address consumer health and nutrition concerns.