McDonald’s, Sodexo and Barilla Group among companies most praised by NGOs

Posted Jul 31, 2018

McDonald’s, Sodexo and Barilla Group among companies most praised by NGOs

Nestlé among the most criticised

Three major food brands feature in a new ranking of corporates most praised by activist groups (NGOs).  McDonald’s, Sodexo and Barilla Group make the top ten of companies recognised by NGOs for their leadership on environmental issues, human and animal rights.  The quarterly ranking is produced by global research and strategy consultancy SIGWATCH, based on its monitoring of more than 9,000 NGOs.

According to SIGWATCH analysis, food companies have won the admiration of NGOs in the past quarter as a result of their leadership on climate change and animal welfare.  This is a departure from previous rankings which have been dominated by the retail sector.

McDonald’s initiatives to reduce its impact on the environment, such as by sourcing its food responsibly, promoting renewable energy and reducing waste, have earned the company a spot on the most praised list since the start of the year.   

French food services and FM company Sodexo and Italian food company Barilla Group are commended for their stance on animal rights, notably on caged eggs.  Barilla is committed to a completely cage-free egg supply by 2020, while Sodexo has pledged to source only cage-free eggs by 2025.  Barilla also wins favour for its ban on animal testing.


1.       AXA

2.       Allianz

3.       Gap

4.       Unilever

5.       Citigroup

6.       Aldi

7.       McDonald's

8.       Swiss Re

9.       Sodexo

10.   Barilla

At the other end of the spectrum, while energy firms are the most criticised by NGOs, Nestlé is on the ‘naughty list’ again this quarter.  This is a result of its use of plastics and palm oil and its bottled water range, which involves pumping water from drought-ridden California.  This a dramatic departure from its ‘most praised’ position of 2017 but not unusual; so-called changemakers such as Nestlé and Unilever who are responsive to NGO campaigns often receive praise and criticism in equal measure, to reward them for change and spur them into further action. 

Robert Blood, managing director of SIGWATCH said, “NGOs are making the weather on many of the world's most important issues, from climate change to plastics.  Therefore, knowing what they think about companies and, indeed, entire industry sectors is both helpful and revealing.  It can identify emerging issues, pinpoint brands that are vulnerable to attack and, when brands are praised, highlight opportunities for reputational gain.

“Smart companies are paying attention to what NGOs say and think. They are harnessing NGO campaigns and issues to boost their reputations, particularly with younger consumers. Niche companies are doing it to establish segment credibility, larger companies to effect real change through markets and global supply chains due to their huge economic power and influence.”


SIGWATCH is a global research and strategy consultancy specializing in understanding NGOs (activist groups) and the impact of their campaigns on corporate reputation and social responsibility.  It is headquartered in London, United Kingdom with a support office in Germany and a global network of researchers and analysts.  It also has partners in the US and Canada. 

SIGWATCH provides real-time monitoring and measurement of emerging stakeholder risk from more than 9,000 NGO campaigners across all industry sectors.  Its clients are mostly global businesses that have direct or sector exposure to issues campaigns, and companies that advise or invest in such businesses or need to carry out due diligence prior to partnering or investment.