Responsible Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategies have become instrumental to create growth and value for stakeholders in the healthy snack industry. Equitable and sustainable access to food through diversity, inclusion and well-being could hold prominence across developing and developed countries. Accelerating sustainability efforts have become paramount amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Prominently, climate change has led to crop failures, extreme weather, supply chain bottlenecks and food shortages. The prevailing situation warrants a renewed focus on sustainability—an approach that is in line with an environmentally friendly food system.
Lately, regenerative agriculture has come to the fore with the need to reduce carbon footprint gaining ground. Brands have shown traction to minimize tillage and foster a regenerative supply chain. Food and beverage manufacturers are poised to play a pivotal role in tackling greenhouse gas emissions. Sourcing ingredients through regenerative agriculture could be the new normal and gain ground across retailers. Climate-friendly snack companies are likely to show traction for regenerative farming to create a resilient ecosystem and boost food security. Leading players are working closely with farmers to make soil healthier, foster biodiversity, enhance watershed health and bolster farming communities. For instance, PepsiCo aims at spreading regenerative agriculture practices to 7 million acres by 2030.
Uptake in ESG investments provides a promising opportunity to align financial gains with upsides for the environment and society. With the prevalence of suboptimal nutrition denting the brand value and fiscal performance of the food sector, snacks with a strong ESG profile could be the game changer. Industry players have reinforced traction to enhance products and recapture packaging materials, minimize GHG emissions, replenish water and expedite changes required to address climate change.
Mondelēz Underscores Environmental Portfolio
Investments in resilient and sustainable food supply chains could protect the environment and propel a transition to regenerative practices. Amidst possible repercussions of climate change, robust initiatives to minimize environmental impact have become pronounced. In June 2022, Mondelēz International exhibited bullish initiatives, including a reduction in water usage, packaging and greenhouse gas emissions in its 2021 Snacking Made Right Report.
Sustainable snacking companies are slated to emphasize ambitious ESG goals—Mondelēz is on course to use 5% recycled plastic content by 2025, including Philadelphia tubs and Cadbury Dairy Milk sharing bars. The company intends to have 100% renewable electricity in 6 of its U.K. production sites and a reduction of 21% in Scope 1 and 2 CO2e emissions (baseline 2018). The snacking company has set a net zero GHG emissions by 2050 and is injecting funds into Circulate Capital Ocean Fund to underpin the collection of plastic waste. In September, it also issued its first green bond, depicting Mondelēz’s commitment to propel the ESG agenda.
Environmentally friendly snacking has amassed popularity with major players gearing to provide the right product, made the right way for the right moment. For instance, Mondelēz noted that the majority of dairy materials were purchased from suppliers functioning under animal welfare schemes. The U.S. multinational company aims for a 15% reduction in food waste in internal manufacturing sites and a 10% reduction in absolute water usage in priority sites by 2025. Moreover, the company also noted that 100% wheat volume is required for Europe business unit biscuits production under the Harmony charter by 2022.
Kellogg Prioritizes Social Commitment
Healthy snack brands are bolstering communities and investing in sustainable access to food with improved quality of life for families and people with nutritious and accessible options. Social equity and opportunities with diversity and inclusion have provided a fillip to the industry profile. Brands are measuring their impact on farm families and employees. Some of the dynamics, such as safe and healthy working conditions, gender participation and financial literacy could be pronounced. For instance, in August 2022, Kellogg announced its ambitious goal of creating better days for 3 billion people by 2030. The company noted in its annual ESG report (illustrating achievements from 2015 through 2021) that around 800 million people were nourished with its foods, while it fed 219 million people grappling with hunger or crisis. Additionally, the globally popular brand also backed 445,000 farmers, several of whom were women and smallholders.
The U.S. company has upped its focus on gender diversity and boosted equity and inclusion in the workforce. Kellogg suggested that around 44% of the global roles were filled by women at the management level. The American company expressed contemplation for gender 50/50 parity at the management level by 2025. The company has also recognized the significance of women in the agriculture sector and is identifying areas of the supply chain with the highest presence of women. Moreover, in 2020, Kellogg published its Global Human Rights Policy, reinforcing salient human rights risks and human rights strategy.
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Nestle Adds Value to ESG with Investments in Governance
At a time when the regenerative food system has gained a massive uptick, governance has received notable traction among investors, regulators and other stakeholders. Implementation of ESG-related performance indicators has gained ground. In 2021, Nestlé rolled out a new structure for managing ESG topics and its Board of Directors created a dedicated and distinct Sustainability Committee to review the company’s sustainability agenda and boost shared value. The ESG and Sustainability Council offers strategic leadership, governance and execution guidance and advises Nestlé’s Executive Board on making science-based and informed decisions.
Nestlé mentioned in its Creating Shared Value and Sustainability Report 2021 that it appointed 11 new independent directors since 2015. Moreover, the food & beverage company also ran a series of Food Systems Summit Dialogues offering inputs on innovation for food systems transformations, mainstreaming regenerative agriculture and how to make nutritious diets more accessible, affordable and adequate. It is also expected to vouch for policies that assist in whole grains consumption and is committing to minimize sodium in frequently consumed products by 2025 and 2030. Besides, it conducts a materiality assessment every two years to help identify the economic, social and environmental aspects.
Business leaders and ESG subject matter experts are vying to drive positive change through partnerships, product launches, innovations and technology advancements that address sustainability. To illustrate, in May 2021, Hershey announced the acquisition of Lily’s Confectionery Brand to bolster its zero-sugar product offerings. It could help the former underscore the use of innovative sugars in snacks. With innovations and industry-wide developments emphasizing ESG, the healthy snack market could witness a CAGR of 6.6% during the assessment period. A renewed focus on the environment, health, safety and climate policy could steer the growth trajectory.
About Astra – ESG Solutions By Grand View Research
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