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AdvancingON THE PATH TO
PRODUCT SUSTAINABILITY
report
a
THE FOOD AND BEVERAGE INDUSTRY:
Advancing on the Path to
Product Sustainability
THE FOOD AND BEVERAGE INDUSTRY:
Product sustainability efforts within the food and beverage
industry are gaining momentum and maturity, delivering
increasing value to companies. This report will help you learn:
•	How to maximize business value to keep pace with your
competitors’ rapid progress in product sustainability
•	Steps for building strong corporate alignment and bringing
product sustainability into the core of the business
•	Where companies in the food and beverage sector plan on
focusing their product sustainability efforts in the coming
years to address emerging issues
© Pure Strategies, all rights reserved purestrategies.com
The Food and Beverage Industry: Advancing on the Path to Product Sustainability © Pure Strategies, all rights reserved 1
The Food and Beverage Industry:
Advancing on the Path to Product Sustainability
With a global population expected to exceed 9 billion by midcentury, the food and beverage
industry faces the unique challenge of meeting human nutritional needs without exceeding
ecological and social limits. The solutions range from product and packaging innovation
to substantial manufacturing efficiencies and significant supply chain activation and
collaboration.
Product sustainability advances such as these are beginning to take shape in
leading companies, but many more firms need to adopt the best practices.
In this report, we outline the status of product sustainability in the food and
beverage industry and identify successful approaches from top-performing
programs to help more companies transform their businesses and gain value
from their efforts.
The Cola-Cola Company engages in product sustainability
through several initiatives, such as those shown here.
Raw materials:
Sustainable sourcing of key
ingredients, agricultural
projects and farmer support
Manufacturing:
Energy and water
efficiency, recycling
and treating
wastewater, source
water protection
plans, greenhouse gas
emissions reduction
Packaging:
Renewable plastic
utilization, material
efficiency
Distribution
and Retail:
HFC coolers,
alternatively fueled fleet
End-of-Life:
Increase plastic
bottle recovery
and recycling
1
2
3
4
5 Coca-Cola’s
product life cycle
Product sustainability encompasses initiatives that measure, improve, and disclose the environmental
and social impacts of products across their life cycle stages.
© Pure Strategies, all rights reserved purestrategies.com2
Food and Beverage Companies are Advancing
In this second Pure Strategies study on product sustainability programs, we surveyed 57 food and
beverage companies involved in product sustainability, confirming that more firms are developing
sophisticated product sustainability approaches, progressing beyond just exploring what product
sustainability means to their organization. We saw an increase in the number of companies with
goals and advanced sustainability programs with strong alignment and business integration
(Figures 1 & 2).
This increased activity has generated
signifiant business benefits. More food and
beverage companies have achieved value
through risk reduction, productivity, and
growth opportunities (Figure 3). Employee
engagement tops the list of benefits
reported, driving productivity through
improved retention, enhanced recruitment,
and efficiency gains of up to 13%.i
Despite these gains, there is room for improvement. Companies that are earning the greatest
business value, which we refer to as performers, have strong corporate alignment and integrate
sustainability into the core of their business (Figure 4). While food and beverage companies lag
behind these top-achieving firms, they are among their ranks, demonstrating the potential across
the sector of earning more from product sustainability programs.
“Our company’s product environmental programs are delivering
efficiencies from the farm through to logistics, reducing risk and
improving resilience for the farmer and our company.”
John Rogers, Global Director of Agricultural Development, Anheuser-Busch InBev
i	 IO Sustainability. 2015. Project ROI: Defining the competitive and financial advantages of corporate responsibility and sustainability.
How Businesses Benefit from Product Sustainability Efforts
Greater
Productivity
Risk
Reduction
Growth
Opportunities
100+Z81+T100+T100%
2015 2013
82%
Figure 1 Percentage of food and
beverage companies surveyed with
product sustainability goals.
100+Z68+T68%
Figure 2 Of the food and beverage
companies engaged in product
sustainability, 95% (up from 68%
in 2013) have moved beyond just
exploring what product sustainability
means and are evaluating sustainability
and/or integrating sustainability into
products.
100+Z95+T95%
2015 2013
The Food and Beverage Industry: Advancing on the Path to Product Sustainability © Pure Strategies, all rights reserved 3
The Blueprint for Success
Corporate Alignment
A successful program begins with effective corporate alignment that has
leadership engagement and structured goals.
Leadership Engagement
Executive support with active involvement and accountability advances
product sustainability programs across the company. Food and beverage
companies involved in product sustainability have been excelling in
this area.
Unilever’s executive team is involved in determining and tracking
priorities to drive sustainable growth. The company reinforces this role by linking progress on
sustainable business goals to compensation and incentives for company leadership including the
CEO and several members of the Unilever Leadership Executive Team.
Ensure the Executive Team and other leadership supports the effort, is
accountable with goals, and visibly participates in the program.
“At Nestlé, Creating Shared Value is the way we do business and it is
embedded in our holistic management thinking. Integrating business
opportunity and societal need is what we expect of our leaders and
employees.”
Nestle Chairman of the Board Peter Brabeck-Letmathe & Chief Executive Officer Paul Bulcke
Figure 3 Percentage of food and
beverage companies reporting having
achieved the following benefits.
440+560= 44%
630+370= 63%
Employee engagement
200+800= 20%
580+420= 58%
Supply chain risk reduction
540+460= 54%
560+440= 56%
Meeting retailer requirements
530+470= 53%
530+470= 53%
Logistics & supply chain cost savings
300+700= 30%
510+490= 51%
Future regulatory risk mitigation
470+530= 47%
510+490= 51%
Manufacturing cost savings
310+690= 31%
490+510= 49%
Packaging cost savings
310+690= 31%
470+530= 47%
Meeting consumer demands
190+810= 19%
460+540= 46%
Increased sales
230+770= 23%
390+610= 39%
Product materials cost savings
330+670= 33%
300+700= 30%
Reputation & brand enhancement
2013 actual, previous study 2015 actual
83%of food
and beverage
companies have a high
or very high level of
product sustainability
integration with
executives and
administration.
© Pure Strategies, all rights reserved purestrategies.com4
Agricultural Production
41
11 19 11
216
%
%
%
%
%%
Distribution
Processing
PackagingUse
End
of Life
CARBON FOOTPRINT ALLOCATION ACROSS THE LIFECYCLE OF ANNIE’S PRODUCTS
How do food and beverage companies identify their priorities?
Understanding the key issues across the product supply
chain, from farm to fork, is critical in setting the right goals
to advance sustainability and gain business value from the
company’s efforts.
To determine their priorities, businesses typically conduct
a materiality assessment, life cycle assessment for key
products, and/or additional impact evaluation (e.g., water
risk, supply chain risk).
What have others found?
A large portion of a food and beverage company’s impact
typically falls in raw material production, thus sustainable
agriculture is often an important area of focus for firms.
There are additional opportunities across the supply chain.
For more information, see the book The 10 Principles of
Food Industry Sustainability. Agriculture (82%)
Transforming (3%)
82+3+14+1+HWater
consumption
across the
value chain
(% of total)*
GENERAL MILLS: WATER CONSUMPTION
Packaging supply chain (14%)
Converting (1%)
* Based on analysis completed by Trucost in September 2012.
Water consumption in Shipping, Selling, and Consuming
was considered to be immaterial.
Figure 4 The top benefits achieved
by food and beverage companies.
Percentage of food and beverage
companies and performing
companies reporting having
achieved benefits from their product
sustainability program.
630+370=
Employee engagement
580+420=
Supply chain risk reduction
560+440=
Meeting retailer requirements
Food and Beverage Companies
Performers from all industries
93%
93%
87%
63%
58%
56%
Source:
https://www.generalmills.com/Responsibility/Environment/Water.aspx
Source: http://purestrategies.com/case-study/annies-inc
Figure 5
The Food and Beverage Industry: Advancing on the Path to Product Sustainability © Pure Strategies, all rights reserved 5
Structured Goals
Clear goals organize and drive organizational efforts in product sustainability. The Coca-Cola
Company’s aspiration, for example, involves “protecting the environment” by focusing on four areas:
water, packaging, climate protection, and sustainable agriculture. These priorities address the top
issues across the company’s value chain. Other leading food and beverage companies have similar
focus areas (Figure 5). Top performers understand that it is critical to identify where their notable
impacts occur to effectively set goals that address risks and seize opportunities.
Food and beverage companies have employed issue-focused goals (e.g., % energy efficiency, %
greenhouse gas reduction) that are technical in nature and can be hard for the entire company to
participate in. For example, a focus on energy efficiency may engage facilities and manufacturing
personnel, but fail to engage marketing, sales, procurement, and other parts of the organization.
Coca-Cola’s
protecting the
environment priorities
include business-
relevant goals and
specific targets. Sustainable agriculture, for example, includes
a goal to sustainably source key agricultural ingredients by
2020, with a list of ingredients to address by:
•	 Embedding sustainability into ingredient procurement
decisions
•	 Developing and implementing crop-specific programs to
enhance the economic well-being of farming communities,
improve yields, and protect natural resources across the
supply chain
•	 Building industry-wide collaboration to gain alignment
and effect change in the agricultural sector
•	 Driving change through partnerships
Purpose  Aspirations
Business
Relevant Goals
Connecting the company
and making sustainability
actionable
Issue-Focused
Targets
Providing focus and
direction on key changes
Metrics
Clearfocus
Figure 6
Source: http://assets.coca-colacompany.com/77/4c/2a44a5234a3ca65d449d174a0ded/2013-2014-coca-cola-sustainability-report-pdf.pdf
© Pure Strategies, all rights reserved purestrategies.com6
Performing companies overcome these issues by also leveraging aspirations and business-relevant
goals (Figure 6).
The business-relevant goal is a newer approach for the food and beverage industry. This type of goal
links sustainability efforts to revenue, innovation, or the product portfolio. A business-relevant
approach served as a turning point for many companies in our research, by bringing cross-functional
groups together with a common investment in the outcome. Examples include:
•	Nestlé: Assess and optimize the environmental impact of our products.
•	Colgate-Palmolive/Hill’s pet nutrition: Improve the sustainability profile in our new
products and product updates.
•	Marks and Spencer: Have at least one Plan A social or environmental quality in all MS
products by 2020.
Leverage structured goals with an aspiration, a business-relevant goal, and issue-
based targets with a clear focus on top impacts.
Business Integration
A key feature of the blueprint for successful programs is integrating product sustainability into the
business including key processes and performance measurement.
Key Functions
Bringing sustainability to core business functions and processes, such as procurement,
manufacturing, and research and development makes it part of day-to-day responsibilities and
promotes effective corporate alignment. Unilever has been building sustainability into the company
for years and found that 76% of employees agree that their job contributes to the company’s
sustainability plan and drives sustainable growth. But while there are success stories, this area
remains a significant improvement opportunity for the food industry.
Mars, Inc. has a goal to source 100%
sustainable fish in its pet food
products by 2020. The company has a
multi-pronged strategy to achieve this
including:
•	 Reducing the amount of fish used
in pet food products
•	 Replacing any vulnerable fish
sources
•	 Sourcing from third-party-
recommended fisheries
This approach engaged
manufacturing, product development,
and sourcing to transform the
company’s pet food portfolio. Many
companies limit such issues to
procurement solutions. However,
Mars addressed their impact and
saw several levers they could adjust.
The resulting integrated approach in
their Asia-Pacific region led to 30%
less tuna needed through finding
efficiencies, reducing waste, and
reformulating with different protein
sources, along with purchasing
responsibly harvested stocks.
The Food and Beverage Industry: Advancing on the Path to Product Sustainability © Pure Strategies, all rights reserved 7
Training staff and embedding sustainability into
product development has accelerated since 2013
when just one-third of companies involved in product
sustainability were focused on sustainability at
commercial product development. Now, two-thirds
have integrated it into this design stage. Yet, leading
firms across all types of industries are further along
than food and beverage companies. Furthermore,
these top-performing companies plan on a greater
level of integration in the future (Figure 7).
Part of the challenge for food and beverage
companies is a limited connection between product
development and sustainability. This can be
addressed by understanding the company’s priority
issues. For example, packaging is often a focus area
with many improvement opportunities that could
be highlighted if sustainability were included in the
early phases of design.
Nestlé’s product and packaging
designers are encouraged to think
about sustainability from the very
beginning of the development
process. This is achieved through
a combination of assessment and
guidance for staff to help optimize
environmental hotspots. The company
has developed:
•	 Guidance on areas of significant
impact through Nestle
Sustainability Category Profiles to
clarify priorities and performance
•	 Environmental assessment tools
for developers to evaluate their
decisions during design
Figure 7 Percentage of food and beverage companies, and of performing companies, with a high or very high level of sustainability
integration in the product development process.
2013, food and beverage companies
150+850= 15%
290+710= 29%
210+790= 21%
290+710= 29%
350+650= 35%
470+530= 47%
2015, food and beverage companies
370+630= 37%
540+460= 54%
540+460= 54%
700+300= 70%
630+370= 63%
740+260= 74%
2015, performing companies, all industries
530+470= 53%
670+330= 67%
730+270= 73%
800+200= 80%
730+270= 73%
930+070= 93%
Concept stage
Bench-top/Pilot stage
Commercial stage
2015 actual 2015 actual2013 actual projected for 2015 projected for 2018 projected for 2018
Understand
Activate
Track
The steps to bring sustainability
to core business functions
Understand the key
impacts across the
product life cycle
Activate business functions
to address impacts
Track progress with
business-relevant metrics
© Pure Strategies, all rights reserved purestrategies.com8
Another challenge is that food and beverage companies mostly source ingredients through
suppliers, rather than a vertical supply, and the on-farm impacts of agriculture often seem distant.
Yet sustainable agriculture is a critical issue for food and beverage companies.ii
Changing the
ingredients used, when possible, and reducing the impact of these ingredients at the source are
key approaches for food companies. As a result, in addition to product development, supplier
management and procurement staff need to be engaged in product sustainability programs.
Procurement teams are integrating sustainability into their work and have plans to increase
supplier engagement. Food and beverage companies are reaching not only Tier 1 suppliers, but also
further up in the supply chain to raw material production (Figure 8). PepsiCo, for example, developed
the Sustainable Farming Initiative to guide suppliers in sustainable practices and provide them with
resources, training, and support to improve farming methods.
ii	 Makower, J. and the editors of GreenBiz.com. 2015. State of Green Business 2015.
Percentage of food and beverage
companies with a high or very high
level of sustainability integration into
interactions with suppliers to the point
of ingredient/material production or
extraction.
Figure 8 Percentage of food and
beverage companies with a high or very
high level of sustainability integration
into interactions with tier 1 suppliers.
100+Z100+Z65+T79+T65% 79%
2015 projected for 2018
100+Z100+Z49+T61+T49% 61%
2015 projected for 2018
Figure 9
Sustainable Sourcing — a valued tool:
Food and beverage companies can drive meaningful improvements in ingredient sustainability through focused
sourcing efforts. This includes working with suppliers and finding ingredients that meet one of the following criteria:
Certified
to address
priority areas
(e.g., organic,
Marine Stewardship
Council, Roundtable on
Sustainable Palm)
Included
in an industry
or company program
to address key impacts
(e.g., Field to Market,
Unilever’s Sustainable
Agriculture Code, Starbuck’s
C.A.F.E. practices)
Verified
to meet
requirements
for issues of concern
(e.g., sow gestation
crate-free,
pollinator-friendly,
zero waste)
1 2 3
The Food and Beverage Industry: Advancing on the Path to Product Sustainability © Pure Strategies, all rights reserved 9
More than 90% of the water used
to produce Anheuser-Busch InBev’s
products goes to growing barley
and other agricultural ingredients.
The company is engaged with more
than 17,000 barley growers to help
improve water management and other
practices, while gaining efficiencies
and enhanced quality, through:
Communication: benchmarking
producers through the company’s
SmartBarley platform to identify
best practices and improvement
opportunities.
Capacity building: investing in
development of new barley varieties,
water efficiency technologies and
agronomy programs to enhance yield
and resource conservation.
Collaboration: piloting water
management programs with local
and global stakeholders to develop
best practices that can extend across
producers and crops.
The best practices in supply chain
engagement include communicating
priorities, building supplier capacity, and
collaborating on solutions. This may seem
daunting for companies with many suppliers
or what may seem like little leverage with
their suppliers. There are ways to overcome
these challenges by focusing on key impacts and starting small before building or expecting greater
change. Sustainable sourcing is often an effective approach companies take to get started (Figure 9).
Embed sustainability into the processes core to the business including product
development, procurement and supplier management, and operations.
Performance Tracking
Bringing sustainability into company performance measures is key to adding accountability
and boosting progress. There are several powerful examples of food and beverage companies
integrating product sustainability into business-relevant metrics, performance tracking, and
employee incentives. Smithfield Foods, Inc. publishes an integrated report, showing business
and sustainability performance side-by-side. In the environmental performance section where
the company reports progress on reducing waste, water, energy, and greenhouse gas emissions
Smithfield also outlines the business value from those efforts (Figure 11).
Linking employee incentives to overall performance enhances program results. Ceres noted
that connecting executive compensation to sustainability performance is on the rise (24% of
companies surveyed in 2014, compared to 15% in 2012).iii
Leading companies extend this to the
rest of the company, as well, to reinforce sustainability integration. Walmart connects a portion of
compensation to sustainability performance for merchant staff to enhance accountability across the
organization, for example.
iii	Ceres. 2014. Gaining Ground: Corporate Progress on the Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability.
Supplier Engagement
collaborate
on solutions
build
capacity
communicate
priorities
© Pure Strategies, all rights reserved purestrategies.com10
Build meaningful metrics with performance results visible throughout the
company and connected to leadership and employee incentives.
Emerging Issues
Food and beverage companies have adopted a product sustainability approach that addresses social
and environmental impacts in agricultural production, manufacturing efficiency, food security, and
packaging. Firms are planning to generally maintain their level of attention in these areas while
increasing their emphasis on emerging issues over the next three years (Figure 10). This means that
firms must engage more with their suppliers and supply chains. For example, companies expect to
pay significant attention to animal welfare issues, livestock production environmental impacts, and
food waste across the supply chain.
Nearly 9 billion food production animals are raised in the U.S.iv
Corporate actions in 2015 are
advancing transparency, performance, and collaboration across this massive supply chain. General
iv	 Based on data available from the National Agricultural Statistics Service: http://www.nass.usda.gov/Charts_and_Maps/
Figure 10 Percentage of food and
beverage companies involved or
very involved in addressing the
following issues in their product
sustainability program.
750+250= 75%
720+270= 72%
Agricultural production social
impacts (farm labor, fair trade)
720+280= 72%
700+300= 70%
Crop production environmental
impacts (deforestation, fertilizer, water,
pesticides, biodiversity, others)
670+330= 67%
600+400= 60%
Manufacturing efficiency (water, energy,
waste, greenhouse gas emissions)
650+350= 65%
580+420= 58%
Food security
620+380= 62%
590+410= 59%
Packaging
530+470= 53%
600+400= 60%
Livestock production environmental
impacts (greenhouse gas emissions,
manure management, others)
480+520= 48%
510+490= 51%
Traceability
400+600= 40%
460+540= 46%
Food waste across the supply chain
200+800= 20%
400+600= 40%
Animal welfare
2015 actual projected for 2018
Figure 11 Smithfield Foods, Inc. 2014 Integrated Report, Environmental Value Creation
Project Costs and Savings 2004–2014
Number of projects 1,390
Awards Granted 144
Capital expenditures $93.9 million
Average cost reductions year one $10.1 million
Average return on investment 10.4 months
Estimated net cumulative cost reductions $471.6 million
Source: http://www.smithfieldfoods.com/integrated-report/environment/value-creation-2
The Food and Beverage Industry: Advancing on the Path to Product Sustainability © Pure Strategies, all rights reserved 11
Tesco is focused on reducing food waste
across the supply chain. At the store
level, the retailer is addressing hotspots
in bakery and produce, which represent
over 60% of the store’s food waste.
Initiatives include:
•	 Displaying less bread in bakeries
to reduce the amount prepared
unnecessarily
•	 Improving produce displays to
reduce product damage, including
adding banana hammocks
•	 Updating IT systems to optimize
stock ordering and daily production
planning
•	 Making a company best practices
manual available in all markets
Tesco also reaches upstream to
reduce food waste on farms. This
connection helps identify where product
specifications may be resulting in
edible products going to waste, and
possible ways to address this. Good
communication across the supply
chain also enables better forecasting
for suppliers and producers to
reduce surplus, and identifies other
opportunities including:
•	 Piloting produce varieties with a
longer life
•	 Implementing new protection
mechanisms to protect produce
post-harvest
Consumer waste is also being
addressed through improved
product labeling, promotions, and
communications.
Mills updated its animal welfare requirements, including transitioning egg sourcing to free range
hens. The company also adopted the five freedoms of animal welfare to address freedom from
hunger, discomfort, pain, and fear, plus freedom to engage in normal animal behavior, across all
its livestock sectors.
One-third of food produced is lost and wasted each year.v
This adds up to significant environmental
and social impacts. The cross-industry group, the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) — that helped gain
broad support on key issues such as deforestation and phasing out hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants —
tackled food waste in 2015. CGF adopted a resolution to halve food waste within the operations of its
400 retailer and manufacturers members by 2025 and to support wider UN Goals on the issue. Some
companies are already progressing in this emerging area. Early adopters of the CGF’s food waste
campaign are focusing on food packaging, inventory management and distribution, and agricultural
production systems. The craft brewer Sierra Nevada has a zero waste goal with 99.8% already being
diverted from landfill. This includes reducing waste and finding uses for what remains, such as spent
grains for animal feed and anaerobic digestion.
v	 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2011. Global Food Losses and Food Wastage: extent, causes, and prevention.
The largest food retailer in the U.S., Walmart, issued an animal welfare policy that applies the five freedoms across its business.
Walmart is seeking changes in livestock housing systems that lack sufficient space, enrichment, or socialization such as sow
gestation crates and battery cages for hens along with other improvements that align with the five freedoms. The retailer
expects its suppliers to adopt and implement these principles and to publish a corporate policy on animal welfare. This
approach to supplier engagement has pushed action in the past, making Walmart the top retailer driving investment in product
sustainability.vi vii
vi Pure Strategies. 2015. Advancing on the Path to Product Sustainability.
vii PPure Strategies. 2014. The Path to Product Sustainability.
© Pure Strategies, all rights reserved purestrategies.com12
Conclusion
Food and beverage companies are making progress in product sustainability, but are not yet
embracing the full suite of practices nor reaping the potential benefits reported by leading
companies. 2015 and the upcoming years are critical for businesses. Those that fail to build their
programs risk being left behind.
Advancing corporate alignment through structured goals that address material issues and
business integration, from product development to supplier engagement, will help boost
the value from product sustainability efforts. These actions will also support progress on
issues that are important to the industry such as sustainable agriculture, manufacturing
efficiency, and packaging, and emerging issues such as animal welfare and food waste.
Product Sustainability Program Blueprint for Success
Does your program include all of these elements to the fullest extent?
Corporate
Alignment
Leadership engagement: Ensure the executive leadership team supports the
program, is accountable with goals, and visibly participates in the program.
Structured goals: Leverage aspirations, business-relevant goals, and specific
targets with a clear focus on material impacts.
Business
Integration
Key functions: Embed sustainability into the processes core to the business,
including product development, procurement and supplier management, and
operations.
Performance measures: Build meaningful metrics with performance visible
throughout the company and connected to leadership and employee incentives.
Cor
porate Alignment
Bus
iness Integrat
ion
Structured
goals
Leadership
engagement
Key
functions
Performance
measures
Successful Product
Sustainability Programs
About Pure Strategies
Since 1998, Pure Strategies has been
transforming business through sustainability
performance. Our team helps companies
initiate and enhance existing sustainability
programs by setting meaningful goals,
devising effective management strategies,
and making changes to products and supply
chains that deliver value to the business and
society. Some of our clients include Walmart,
Annie’s, Organic Valley, Seventh Generation,
Colgate-Palmolive, Ocean Spray, Ben 
Jerry’s, and Radio Flyer.
About the Research
In early 2015, Pure Strategies conducted 152 telephone surveys with individuals
across the globe responsible for product sustainability in firms with revenue of
at least $250 million. A subset of performing companies were used to compare
to the rest of the sample and were identified as those that have already achieved
notable business benefits (e.g., number of benefits and earnings) from their product
sustainability efforts. In-depth interviews were also conducted with sustainability
managers at leading companies such as Mars Inc. and Anheuser-Busch InBev. The
research team supplemented this with a review of public information from some of
the largest product companies. This report focuses on the food industry research.
Advancing on the Path to Product Sustainability, a broader industry report, is
available at www.purestrategies.com. This study builds on the previous research
Pure Strategies conducted in late 2013 and early 2014, which informed our report,
The Path to Product Sustainability
purestrategies.com
info@purestrategies.com

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The Food and Beverage Industry: Advancing on the Path to Product Sustainability

  • 1. AdvancingON THE PATH TO PRODUCT SUSTAINABILITY report a THE FOOD AND BEVERAGE INDUSTRY:
  • 2. Advancing on the Path to Product Sustainability THE FOOD AND BEVERAGE INDUSTRY: Product sustainability efforts within the food and beverage industry are gaining momentum and maturity, delivering increasing value to companies. This report will help you learn: • How to maximize business value to keep pace with your competitors’ rapid progress in product sustainability • Steps for building strong corporate alignment and bringing product sustainability into the core of the business • Where companies in the food and beverage sector plan on focusing their product sustainability efforts in the coming years to address emerging issues © Pure Strategies, all rights reserved purestrategies.com
  • 3. The Food and Beverage Industry: Advancing on the Path to Product Sustainability © Pure Strategies, all rights reserved 1 The Food and Beverage Industry: Advancing on the Path to Product Sustainability With a global population expected to exceed 9 billion by midcentury, the food and beverage industry faces the unique challenge of meeting human nutritional needs without exceeding ecological and social limits. The solutions range from product and packaging innovation to substantial manufacturing efficiencies and significant supply chain activation and collaboration. Product sustainability advances such as these are beginning to take shape in leading companies, but many more firms need to adopt the best practices. In this report, we outline the status of product sustainability in the food and beverage industry and identify successful approaches from top-performing programs to help more companies transform their businesses and gain value from their efforts. The Cola-Cola Company engages in product sustainability through several initiatives, such as those shown here. Raw materials: Sustainable sourcing of key ingredients, agricultural projects and farmer support Manufacturing: Energy and water efficiency, recycling and treating wastewater, source water protection plans, greenhouse gas emissions reduction Packaging: Renewable plastic utilization, material efficiency Distribution and Retail: HFC coolers, alternatively fueled fleet End-of-Life: Increase plastic bottle recovery and recycling 1 2 3 4 5 Coca-Cola’s product life cycle Product sustainability encompasses initiatives that measure, improve, and disclose the environmental and social impacts of products across their life cycle stages.
  • 4. © Pure Strategies, all rights reserved purestrategies.com2 Food and Beverage Companies are Advancing In this second Pure Strategies study on product sustainability programs, we surveyed 57 food and beverage companies involved in product sustainability, confirming that more firms are developing sophisticated product sustainability approaches, progressing beyond just exploring what product sustainability means to their organization. We saw an increase in the number of companies with goals and advanced sustainability programs with strong alignment and business integration (Figures 1 & 2). This increased activity has generated signifiant business benefits. More food and beverage companies have achieved value through risk reduction, productivity, and growth opportunities (Figure 3). Employee engagement tops the list of benefits reported, driving productivity through improved retention, enhanced recruitment, and efficiency gains of up to 13%.i Despite these gains, there is room for improvement. Companies that are earning the greatest business value, which we refer to as performers, have strong corporate alignment and integrate sustainability into the core of their business (Figure 4). While food and beverage companies lag behind these top-achieving firms, they are among their ranks, demonstrating the potential across the sector of earning more from product sustainability programs. “Our company’s product environmental programs are delivering efficiencies from the farm through to logistics, reducing risk and improving resilience for the farmer and our company.” John Rogers, Global Director of Agricultural Development, Anheuser-Busch InBev i IO Sustainability. 2015. Project ROI: Defining the competitive and financial advantages of corporate responsibility and sustainability. How Businesses Benefit from Product Sustainability Efforts Greater Productivity Risk Reduction Growth Opportunities 100+Z81+T100+T100% 2015 2013 82% Figure 1 Percentage of food and beverage companies surveyed with product sustainability goals. 100+Z68+T68% Figure 2 Of the food and beverage companies engaged in product sustainability, 95% (up from 68% in 2013) have moved beyond just exploring what product sustainability means and are evaluating sustainability and/or integrating sustainability into products. 100+Z95+T95% 2015 2013
  • 5. The Food and Beverage Industry: Advancing on the Path to Product Sustainability © Pure Strategies, all rights reserved 3 The Blueprint for Success Corporate Alignment A successful program begins with effective corporate alignment that has leadership engagement and structured goals. Leadership Engagement Executive support with active involvement and accountability advances product sustainability programs across the company. Food and beverage companies involved in product sustainability have been excelling in this area. Unilever’s executive team is involved in determining and tracking priorities to drive sustainable growth. The company reinforces this role by linking progress on sustainable business goals to compensation and incentives for company leadership including the CEO and several members of the Unilever Leadership Executive Team. Ensure the Executive Team and other leadership supports the effort, is accountable with goals, and visibly participates in the program. “At Nestlé, Creating Shared Value is the way we do business and it is embedded in our holistic management thinking. Integrating business opportunity and societal need is what we expect of our leaders and employees.” Nestle Chairman of the Board Peter Brabeck-Letmathe & Chief Executive Officer Paul Bulcke Figure 3 Percentage of food and beverage companies reporting having achieved the following benefits. 440+560= 44% 630+370= 63% Employee engagement 200+800= 20% 580+420= 58% Supply chain risk reduction 540+460= 54% 560+440= 56% Meeting retailer requirements 530+470= 53% 530+470= 53% Logistics & supply chain cost savings 300+700= 30% 510+490= 51% Future regulatory risk mitigation 470+530= 47% 510+490= 51% Manufacturing cost savings 310+690= 31% 490+510= 49% Packaging cost savings 310+690= 31% 470+530= 47% Meeting consumer demands 190+810= 19% 460+540= 46% Increased sales 230+770= 23% 390+610= 39% Product materials cost savings 330+670= 33% 300+700= 30% Reputation & brand enhancement 2013 actual, previous study 2015 actual 83%of food and beverage companies have a high or very high level of product sustainability integration with executives and administration.
  • 6. © Pure Strategies, all rights reserved purestrategies.com4 Agricultural Production 41 11 19 11 216 % % % % %% Distribution Processing PackagingUse End of Life CARBON FOOTPRINT ALLOCATION ACROSS THE LIFECYCLE OF ANNIE’S PRODUCTS How do food and beverage companies identify their priorities? Understanding the key issues across the product supply chain, from farm to fork, is critical in setting the right goals to advance sustainability and gain business value from the company’s efforts. To determine their priorities, businesses typically conduct a materiality assessment, life cycle assessment for key products, and/or additional impact evaluation (e.g., water risk, supply chain risk). What have others found? A large portion of a food and beverage company’s impact typically falls in raw material production, thus sustainable agriculture is often an important area of focus for firms. There are additional opportunities across the supply chain. For more information, see the book The 10 Principles of Food Industry Sustainability. Agriculture (82%) Transforming (3%) 82+3+14+1+HWater consumption across the value chain (% of total)* GENERAL MILLS: WATER CONSUMPTION Packaging supply chain (14%) Converting (1%) * Based on analysis completed by Trucost in September 2012. Water consumption in Shipping, Selling, and Consuming was considered to be immaterial. Figure 4 The top benefits achieved by food and beverage companies. Percentage of food and beverage companies and performing companies reporting having achieved benefits from their product sustainability program. 630+370= Employee engagement 580+420= Supply chain risk reduction 560+440= Meeting retailer requirements Food and Beverage Companies Performers from all industries 93% 93% 87% 63% 58% 56% Source: https://www.generalmills.com/Responsibility/Environment/Water.aspx Source: http://purestrategies.com/case-study/annies-inc Figure 5
  • 7. The Food and Beverage Industry: Advancing on the Path to Product Sustainability © Pure Strategies, all rights reserved 5 Structured Goals Clear goals organize and drive organizational efforts in product sustainability. The Coca-Cola Company’s aspiration, for example, involves “protecting the environment” by focusing on four areas: water, packaging, climate protection, and sustainable agriculture. These priorities address the top issues across the company’s value chain. Other leading food and beverage companies have similar focus areas (Figure 5). Top performers understand that it is critical to identify where their notable impacts occur to effectively set goals that address risks and seize opportunities. Food and beverage companies have employed issue-focused goals (e.g., % energy efficiency, % greenhouse gas reduction) that are technical in nature and can be hard for the entire company to participate in. For example, a focus on energy efficiency may engage facilities and manufacturing personnel, but fail to engage marketing, sales, procurement, and other parts of the organization. Coca-Cola’s protecting the environment priorities include business- relevant goals and specific targets. Sustainable agriculture, for example, includes a goal to sustainably source key agricultural ingredients by 2020, with a list of ingredients to address by: • Embedding sustainability into ingredient procurement decisions • Developing and implementing crop-specific programs to enhance the economic well-being of farming communities, improve yields, and protect natural resources across the supply chain • Building industry-wide collaboration to gain alignment and effect change in the agricultural sector • Driving change through partnerships Purpose Aspirations Business Relevant Goals Connecting the company and making sustainability actionable Issue-Focused Targets Providing focus and direction on key changes Metrics Clearfocus Figure 6 Source: http://assets.coca-colacompany.com/77/4c/2a44a5234a3ca65d449d174a0ded/2013-2014-coca-cola-sustainability-report-pdf.pdf
  • 8. © Pure Strategies, all rights reserved purestrategies.com6 Performing companies overcome these issues by also leveraging aspirations and business-relevant goals (Figure 6). The business-relevant goal is a newer approach for the food and beverage industry. This type of goal links sustainability efforts to revenue, innovation, or the product portfolio. A business-relevant approach served as a turning point for many companies in our research, by bringing cross-functional groups together with a common investment in the outcome. Examples include: • Nestlé: Assess and optimize the environmental impact of our products. • Colgate-Palmolive/Hill’s pet nutrition: Improve the sustainability profile in our new products and product updates. • Marks and Spencer: Have at least one Plan A social or environmental quality in all MS products by 2020. Leverage structured goals with an aspiration, a business-relevant goal, and issue- based targets with a clear focus on top impacts. Business Integration A key feature of the blueprint for successful programs is integrating product sustainability into the business including key processes and performance measurement. Key Functions Bringing sustainability to core business functions and processes, such as procurement, manufacturing, and research and development makes it part of day-to-day responsibilities and promotes effective corporate alignment. Unilever has been building sustainability into the company for years and found that 76% of employees agree that their job contributes to the company’s sustainability plan and drives sustainable growth. But while there are success stories, this area remains a significant improvement opportunity for the food industry. Mars, Inc. has a goal to source 100% sustainable fish in its pet food products by 2020. The company has a multi-pronged strategy to achieve this including: • Reducing the amount of fish used in pet food products • Replacing any vulnerable fish sources • Sourcing from third-party- recommended fisheries This approach engaged manufacturing, product development, and sourcing to transform the company’s pet food portfolio. Many companies limit such issues to procurement solutions. However, Mars addressed their impact and saw several levers they could adjust. The resulting integrated approach in their Asia-Pacific region led to 30% less tuna needed through finding efficiencies, reducing waste, and reformulating with different protein sources, along with purchasing responsibly harvested stocks.
  • 9. The Food and Beverage Industry: Advancing on the Path to Product Sustainability © Pure Strategies, all rights reserved 7 Training staff and embedding sustainability into product development has accelerated since 2013 when just one-third of companies involved in product sustainability were focused on sustainability at commercial product development. Now, two-thirds have integrated it into this design stage. Yet, leading firms across all types of industries are further along than food and beverage companies. Furthermore, these top-performing companies plan on a greater level of integration in the future (Figure 7). Part of the challenge for food and beverage companies is a limited connection between product development and sustainability. This can be addressed by understanding the company’s priority issues. For example, packaging is often a focus area with many improvement opportunities that could be highlighted if sustainability were included in the early phases of design. Nestlé’s product and packaging designers are encouraged to think about sustainability from the very beginning of the development process. This is achieved through a combination of assessment and guidance for staff to help optimize environmental hotspots. The company has developed: • Guidance on areas of significant impact through Nestle Sustainability Category Profiles to clarify priorities and performance • Environmental assessment tools for developers to evaluate their decisions during design Figure 7 Percentage of food and beverage companies, and of performing companies, with a high or very high level of sustainability integration in the product development process. 2013, food and beverage companies 150+850= 15% 290+710= 29% 210+790= 21% 290+710= 29% 350+650= 35% 470+530= 47% 2015, food and beverage companies 370+630= 37% 540+460= 54% 540+460= 54% 700+300= 70% 630+370= 63% 740+260= 74% 2015, performing companies, all industries 530+470= 53% 670+330= 67% 730+270= 73% 800+200= 80% 730+270= 73% 930+070= 93% Concept stage Bench-top/Pilot stage Commercial stage 2015 actual 2015 actual2013 actual projected for 2015 projected for 2018 projected for 2018 Understand Activate Track The steps to bring sustainability to core business functions Understand the key impacts across the product life cycle Activate business functions to address impacts Track progress with business-relevant metrics
  • 10. © Pure Strategies, all rights reserved purestrategies.com8 Another challenge is that food and beverage companies mostly source ingredients through suppliers, rather than a vertical supply, and the on-farm impacts of agriculture often seem distant. Yet sustainable agriculture is a critical issue for food and beverage companies.ii Changing the ingredients used, when possible, and reducing the impact of these ingredients at the source are key approaches for food companies. As a result, in addition to product development, supplier management and procurement staff need to be engaged in product sustainability programs. Procurement teams are integrating sustainability into their work and have plans to increase supplier engagement. Food and beverage companies are reaching not only Tier 1 suppliers, but also further up in the supply chain to raw material production (Figure 8). PepsiCo, for example, developed the Sustainable Farming Initiative to guide suppliers in sustainable practices and provide them with resources, training, and support to improve farming methods. ii Makower, J. and the editors of GreenBiz.com. 2015. State of Green Business 2015. Percentage of food and beverage companies with a high or very high level of sustainability integration into interactions with suppliers to the point of ingredient/material production or extraction. Figure 8 Percentage of food and beverage companies with a high or very high level of sustainability integration into interactions with tier 1 suppliers. 100+Z100+Z65+T79+T65% 79% 2015 projected for 2018 100+Z100+Z49+T61+T49% 61% 2015 projected for 2018 Figure 9 Sustainable Sourcing — a valued tool: Food and beverage companies can drive meaningful improvements in ingredient sustainability through focused sourcing efforts. This includes working with suppliers and finding ingredients that meet one of the following criteria: Certified to address priority areas (e.g., organic, Marine Stewardship Council, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm) Included in an industry or company program to address key impacts (e.g., Field to Market, Unilever’s Sustainable Agriculture Code, Starbuck’s C.A.F.E. practices) Verified to meet requirements for issues of concern (e.g., sow gestation crate-free, pollinator-friendly, zero waste) 1 2 3
  • 11. The Food and Beverage Industry: Advancing on the Path to Product Sustainability © Pure Strategies, all rights reserved 9 More than 90% of the water used to produce Anheuser-Busch InBev’s products goes to growing barley and other agricultural ingredients. The company is engaged with more than 17,000 barley growers to help improve water management and other practices, while gaining efficiencies and enhanced quality, through: Communication: benchmarking producers through the company’s SmartBarley platform to identify best practices and improvement opportunities. Capacity building: investing in development of new barley varieties, water efficiency technologies and agronomy programs to enhance yield and resource conservation. Collaboration: piloting water management programs with local and global stakeholders to develop best practices that can extend across producers and crops. The best practices in supply chain engagement include communicating priorities, building supplier capacity, and collaborating on solutions. This may seem daunting for companies with many suppliers or what may seem like little leverage with their suppliers. There are ways to overcome these challenges by focusing on key impacts and starting small before building or expecting greater change. Sustainable sourcing is often an effective approach companies take to get started (Figure 9). Embed sustainability into the processes core to the business including product development, procurement and supplier management, and operations. Performance Tracking Bringing sustainability into company performance measures is key to adding accountability and boosting progress. There are several powerful examples of food and beverage companies integrating product sustainability into business-relevant metrics, performance tracking, and employee incentives. Smithfield Foods, Inc. publishes an integrated report, showing business and sustainability performance side-by-side. In the environmental performance section where the company reports progress on reducing waste, water, energy, and greenhouse gas emissions Smithfield also outlines the business value from those efforts (Figure 11). Linking employee incentives to overall performance enhances program results. Ceres noted that connecting executive compensation to sustainability performance is on the rise (24% of companies surveyed in 2014, compared to 15% in 2012).iii Leading companies extend this to the rest of the company, as well, to reinforce sustainability integration. Walmart connects a portion of compensation to sustainability performance for merchant staff to enhance accountability across the organization, for example. iii Ceres. 2014. Gaining Ground: Corporate Progress on the Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability. Supplier Engagement collaborate on solutions build capacity communicate priorities
  • 12. © Pure Strategies, all rights reserved purestrategies.com10 Build meaningful metrics with performance results visible throughout the company and connected to leadership and employee incentives. Emerging Issues Food and beverage companies have adopted a product sustainability approach that addresses social and environmental impacts in agricultural production, manufacturing efficiency, food security, and packaging. Firms are planning to generally maintain their level of attention in these areas while increasing their emphasis on emerging issues over the next three years (Figure 10). This means that firms must engage more with their suppliers and supply chains. For example, companies expect to pay significant attention to animal welfare issues, livestock production environmental impacts, and food waste across the supply chain. Nearly 9 billion food production animals are raised in the U.S.iv Corporate actions in 2015 are advancing transparency, performance, and collaboration across this massive supply chain. General iv Based on data available from the National Agricultural Statistics Service: http://www.nass.usda.gov/Charts_and_Maps/ Figure 10 Percentage of food and beverage companies involved or very involved in addressing the following issues in their product sustainability program. 750+250= 75% 720+270= 72% Agricultural production social impacts (farm labor, fair trade) 720+280= 72% 700+300= 70% Crop production environmental impacts (deforestation, fertilizer, water, pesticides, biodiversity, others) 670+330= 67% 600+400= 60% Manufacturing efficiency (water, energy, waste, greenhouse gas emissions) 650+350= 65% 580+420= 58% Food security 620+380= 62% 590+410= 59% Packaging 530+470= 53% 600+400= 60% Livestock production environmental impacts (greenhouse gas emissions, manure management, others) 480+520= 48% 510+490= 51% Traceability 400+600= 40% 460+540= 46% Food waste across the supply chain 200+800= 20% 400+600= 40% Animal welfare 2015 actual projected for 2018 Figure 11 Smithfield Foods, Inc. 2014 Integrated Report, Environmental Value Creation Project Costs and Savings 2004–2014 Number of projects 1,390 Awards Granted 144 Capital expenditures $93.9 million Average cost reductions year one $10.1 million Average return on investment 10.4 months Estimated net cumulative cost reductions $471.6 million Source: http://www.smithfieldfoods.com/integrated-report/environment/value-creation-2
  • 13. The Food and Beverage Industry: Advancing on the Path to Product Sustainability © Pure Strategies, all rights reserved 11 Tesco is focused on reducing food waste across the supply chain. At the store level, the retailer is addressing hotspots in bakery and produce, which represent over 60% of the store’s food waste. Initiatives include: • Displaying less bread in bakeries to reduce the amount prepared unnecessarily • Improving produce displays to reduce product damage, including adding banana hammocks • Updating IT systems to optimize stock ordering and daily production planning • Making a company best practices manual available in all markets Tesco also reaches upstream to reduce food waste on farms. This connection helps identify where product specifications may be resulting in edible products going to waste, and possible ways to address this. Good communication across the supply chain also enables better forecasting for suppliers and producers to reduce surplus, and identifies other opportunities including: • Piloting produce varieties with a longer life • Implementing new protection mechanisms to protect produce post-harvest Consumer waste is also being addressed through improved product labeling, promotions, and communications. Mills updated its animal welfare requirements, including transitioning egg sourcing to free range hens. The company also adopted the five freedoms of animal welfare to address freedom from hunger, discomfort, pain, and fear, plus freedom to engage in normal animal behavior, across all its livestock sectors. One-third of food produced is lost and wasted each year.v This adds up to significant environmental and social impacts. The cross-industry group, the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) — that helped gain broad support on key issues such as deforestation and phasing out hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants — tackled food waste in 2015. CGF adopted a resolution to halve food waste within the operations of its 400 retailer and manufacturers members by 2025 and to support wider UN Goals on the issue. Some companies are already progressing in this emerging area. Early adopters of the CGF’s food waste campaign are focusing on food packaging, inventory management and distribution, and agricultural production systems. The craft brewer Sierra Nevada has a zero waste goal with 99.8% already being diverted from landfill. This includes reducing waste and finding uses for what remains, such as spent grains for animal feed and anaerobic digestion. v Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2011. Global Food Losses and Food Wastage: extent, causes, and prevention. The largest food retailer in the U.S., Walmart, issued an animal welfare policy that applies the five freedoms across its business. Walmart is seeking changes in livestock housing systems that lack sufficient space, enrichment, or socialization such as sow gestation crates and battery cages for hens along with other improvements that align with the five freedoms. The retailer expects its suppliers to adopt and implement these principles and to publish a corporate policy on animal welfare. This approach to supplier engagement has pushed action in the past, making Walmart the top retailer driving investment in product sustainability.vi vii vi Pure Strategies. 2015. Advancing on the Path to Product Sustainability. vii PPure Strategies. 2014. The Path to Product Sustainability.
  • 14. © Pure Strategies, all rights reserved purestrategies.com12 Conclusion Food and beverage companies are making progress in product sustainability, but are not yet embracing the full suite of practices nor reaping the potential benefits reported by leading companies. 2015 and the upcoming years are critical for businesses. Those that fail to build their programs risk being left behind. Advancing corporate alignment through structured goals that address material issues and business integration, from product development to supplier engagement, will help boost the value from product sustainability efforts. These actions will also support progress on issues that are important to the industry such as sustainable agriculture, manufacturing efficiency, and packaging, and emerging issues such as animal welfare and food waste. Product Sustainability Program Blueprint for Success Does your program include all of these elements to the fullest extent? Corporate Alignment Leadership engagement: Ensure the executive leadership team supports the program, is accountable with goals, and visibly participates in the program. Structured goals: Leverage aspirations, business-relevant goals, and specific targets with a clear focus on material impacts. Business Integration Key functions: Embed sustainability into the processes core to the business, including product development, procurement and supplier management, and operations. Performance measures: Build meaningful metrics with performance visible throughout the company and connected to leadership and employee incentives. Cor porate Alignment Bus iness Integrat ion Structured goals Leadership engagement Key functions Performance measures Successful Product Sustainability Programs
  • 15. About Pure Strategies Since 1998, Pure Strategies has been transforming business through sustainability performance. Our team helps companies initiate and enhance existing sustainability programs by setting meaningful goals, devising effective management strategies, and making changes to products and supply chains that deliver value to the business and society. Some of our clients include Walmart, Annie’s, Organic Valley, Seventh Generation, Colgate-Palmolive, Ocean Spray, Ben Jerry’s, and Radio Flyer. About the Research In early 2015, Pure Strategies conducted 152 telephone surveys with individuals across the globe responsible for product sustainability in firms with revenue of at least $250 million. A subset of performing companies were used to compare to the rest of the sample and were identified as those that have already achieved notable business benefits (e.g., number of benefits and earnings) from their product sustainability efforts. In-depth interviews were also conducted with sustainability managers at leading companies such as Mars Inc. and Anheuser-Busch InBev. The research team supplemented this with a review of public information from some of the largest product companies. This report focuses on the food industry research. Advancing on the Path to Product Sustainability, a broader industry report, is available at www.purestrategies.com. This study builds on the previous research Pure Strategies conducted in late 2013 and early 2014, which informed our report, The Path to Product Sustainability