Sustainability

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Note from the editor

As studies show that shoppers care about sustainability now more than ever, food and beverage companies are pledging to make their portfolios more eco-friendly. Even as the pandemic has shifted consumer demand, nearly half surveyed say the COVID-19 outbreaks have made them even more concerned about the environment.

While promises are made and demand increases, reports have found that many CPG companies haven't shown significant progress on their sustainability goals. The repercussions are real: An investor group has warned that companies like Nestlé and Campbell Soup could see significant damage to their businesses and supply chains due to climate change.

But there have been some developments. Big Food companies such as General Mills and Unilever have turned to upcycling and regenerative agriculture, while companies like Anheuser-Busch and McCormick are making their ingredients more sustainable.

Packaging is another area companies are working to make more green because it is one of the largest causes of waste in the United States. Companies are beginning to put resources toward the problem. From compostable packaging to paper containers, CPGs are developing prototypes and investing billions of dollars in the space. 

Food waste is another problem for the industry, although many of the largest manufacturers are taking the problem head on. It is also an issue with a potentially lucrative solution. According to a study from Future Market Insights, food waste was worth $46.7 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow 5% during the next decade as more businesses use upcycled ingredients and food waste byproducts in a variety of foods and beverages.

This report details multiple aspects of the growing and evolving sustainability space: 

  • How Unilever is embracing upcycling to tackle food waste
  • Why brands are facing pushback on recyclability claims
  • What gains the broiler chicken industry has made over the past decade
  • How Anheuser-Busch cultivates its ingredients amid a changing climate
  • Consumer sentiment about sustainability amid the pandemic
  • How CPGs score on their sustainable packaging efforts
  • Why McCormick is setting 'audacious' sustainability goals
  • Breaking down Mars' move for a more sustainable palm oil supply chain
  • Why CPGs like Nestlé and Campbell Soup may be highly exposed to climate risks

This trendline captures just a few of the many issues and developments affecting sustainability in the food and beverage space today. We hope you enjoy this deep dive into the current trends.

Chris Casey Associate Editor

How Unilever is turning sustainability into opportunity

The CPG giant is using upcycling, a big plant-based commitment and initiatives to curtail food waste to save money and the environment, says the company's president of foods & refreshment.

• Published Feb. 24, 2021

Progress report: Brands face increasing pressure on recyclability claims in 2021

Major corporations have pledged big recycling-related changes by 2025, and environmental groups are holding them accountable through reporting requirements, shareholder agreements and lawsuits.

• Published Aug. 17, 2021

Broiler chicken industry points to sustainability gains over past decade

• Published Sept. 22, 2021

Farm to pint: How Anheuser-Busch cultivates its ingredients amid a changing climate and consumer

In addition to stringent farming protocols, the company is investing millions to find the next rice, hops and barley varieties that can be grown using less water or are more resilient to diseases.

• Published Feb. 20, 2020

Consumer demand for sustainable packaging holds despite pandemic

• Published April 27, 2021

Coca-Cola scores highest on sustainable packaging, but most CPGs fall short, report says

• Published Sept. 30, 2021

Why McCormick is setting 'audacious' sustainability goals

By 2025, the spice company plans to reduce its emissions, solid waste and carbon footprint while sustainably sourcing its top five ingredients.

• Published Feb. 13, 2020

Breaking down Mars' maverick move for a more sustainable palm oil supply chain

The company is reducing its palm oil mill count from 1,500 to 50 in three years.

• Published Dec. 14, 2020

Nestlé, Campbell Soup 'highly exposed' to climate risks, investor group warns

• Published Sept. 29, 2021

Inside the growing demand for food sustainability

As studies show that shoppers care about sustainability more than ever before, food and beverage companies are pledging to make their portfolios more eco-friendly. From packaging and food waste to green investments, there is much pressure in the CPG space to achieve sustainability.

included in this trendline
  • How Unilever is turning sustainability into opportunity
  • Progress report: Brands face increasing pressure on recyclability claims in 2021
  • Coca-Cola scores highest on sustainable packaging, but most CPGs fall short, report says
Our Trendlines go deep on the biggest trends. These special reports, produced by our team of award-winning journalists, help business leaders understand how their industries are changing.
Davide Savenije Editor-in-Chief at Industry Dive.