- The Carbon Disclosure Project, a nonprofit emissions awareness program, has selected Unilever as the global leader in corporate sustainability, according to FoodBev Media. In total, 13 food and beverage companies made what CDP calls its "environmental A-list," which includes a total of 156 global companies.
- Rounding out the list from the food world are Altria, Associated British Foods, Coca-Cola European Partners, Coca-Cola HBC, Conagra Brands, Danone, Diageo, Kellogg, Kirin, Nestle and Suntory.
- The list is based on findings from a survey fielded by CDP, which ranked businesses based on performance on factors such as climate change, water stewardship and forest preservation. Unilever is the only company of thousands analyzed across all industries to earn an “A” score on every factor measured.
Consumers increasingly expect companies to be transparent, responsible and good stewards for both the community and the environment. Positioning a brand as environmentally conscious is no longer a bonus, it's a growing necessity. Some studies have found consumers are willing to pay more for products that align with their personal beliefs, and shop at stores that have a sustainability-focused mindset.
According to Nielsen, 66% of all consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable brands. This figure is even higher for millennials (73%) and Gen Z (72%). Nielsen also found that a company’s commitment to the environment has the power to sway product purchase for 45% of consumers. For food and beverage makers, being socially conscious is not only good for the environment, it’s good for business.
As a result, many food companies are working hard to reduce their carbon footprint and stay in consumers’ good graces. For example, Unilever has launched what it calls its Sustainable Living Plan, focusing on developing new business practices that reduce the company’s environmental impact. Specific focus areas are deforestation, climate change, and supporting sustainable agriculture and local farmers. The company’s goal is to halve the environmental footprint of the making and use of its products by 2030.
Other companies in the food world are taking similar steps. Mars, Inc. recently pledged $1 billion to fight climate change as part of the company’s Sustainable in a Generation Plan. Last month, the food maker’s M&M’s candy brand launched a "Fans of Wind" energy campaign that features celebrities — including M&M characters Red and Yellow — extolling the virtues of wind power. The intention is to spread the word about what Mars is already doing to use renewable energy sources and encourage consumers to learn more about wind-powered energy.
Tetra Pak is another company making strides toward its sustainability goals by expanding carton recycling and creating bio-based caps for its products. Among the company’s achievements: 100% of its carton paperboard comes from Forest Stewardship Council-certified and other controlled sources; it’s achieved a 16% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions with 19% more packages sold; and the company committed to using 100% renewable electricity by 2030.
Sustainable business practices are becoming ubiquitous across the food industry, and are driving new standards in the food space that show no sign of abating. Everyone from manufacturers to retailers to packaging suppliers fundamentally has company-wide sustainability goals in place. Providing regular updates on progress being made is rather commonplace, especially among publicly held firms and others wanting to get the word out about their accomplishments. Making CDP's environmental A-list is just icing on the cake, giving environmentally conscious companies even more bragging rights.