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The Food and Beverage sector faces overwhelming challenges. It needs to produce more food for a growing population while using less water, with less land to cultivate and serviced by a dwindling agricultural workforce. And if this is not enough, producers need to respond to more extreme weather events, loss of soils and compromised nutrient flows.

The Food and Beverage sector faces overwhelming challenges. It needs to produce more food for a growing population while using less water, with less land to cultivate and serviced by a dwindling agricultural workforce. And if this is not enough, producers need to respond to more extreme weather events, loss of soils and compromised nutrient flows.

We are already living in a world where we exceed planetary boundaries with difficult consequences. Increasing demand for food, and varying availability, drives food price volatility, fuels conflicts over land use and causes social migration. In wealthier economies, a staggering proportion of food is wasted and high profile scandals over ingredient traceability and food safety dominate the news. Poorer countries experience widespread malnutrition, while others struggle with an obesity epidemic and increases in chronic diseases like diabetes.

In this context, it is clear that the Food and Beverage sector cannot adopt a ‘business as usual’ stance. We need a path to achieving long term food security: the ability to feed an additional two billion people; to use less energy and water; to avoid ecosystem and land degradation; to manage supply chain and human rights; to improve food safety and traceability; and to face up to the health impacts of the ingredients used.

The TVR 2014
DNV GL’s Tomorrow’s Value Rating (TVR) 2014 evaluates the sustainability performance of 45 major companies, including 10 in the Food and Beverage sector. Throughout its 11 year history, it has sought to challenge the companies rated to illustrate which ones really are leading the charge towards truly sustainable business.

The TVR demonstrates how frontrunners in the Food and Beverage sector are making substantial progress in linking their operational performance to wider mega-trends such as climate change patterns and demands for increased food production. However, there is a notable gap between the leaders and the laggards, which appears to be largely driven by disparity in companies’ sustainability governance and level of transparency.

The food and beverage companies that have been most successful, recognize both the scale of their impacts and the significance of their power in the marketplace to drive change. The leading companies are identifying areas where they can scale their impact beyond their own organization, influencing their supply chains to promote human rights, including: fairer labour practices, more resource efficient agriculture and sustainable livelihoods for farmers. Success lies in the power of collaboration. Leaders are creating partnerships and sharing their tools and experience with their peers. NGOs are beginning to be invited to publicly critique areas of weakness.

Progress is evident downstream in the value chain too. Consumer education, responsible marketing and waste reduction are emerging as areas of increased effort with objectives and KPIs to promote performance improvement.

The economic aspects
The next step is to quantify the impact of sustainability programs on revenue and profits, to demonstrate links to business success. For now though, there is an important realization amongst the frontrunners in this year’s rating that sustainability should be embedded into the core business. Companies seek greater value from sustainability, and judging by this year’s TVR scores, Unilever, Nestlé and Diageo are leading the way. However, the road ahead is challenging, and even the leaders acknowledge that they are only at the start of their journey.

See the complete findings in our TVR Food and beverage report as well as other TVR resources at www.dnvgl.com/tvr2014

Discuss your sustainability challenges with us at the Global Food Safety Conference in Kuala Lumpur March 3, 2015.

Cristina Martins
Global Manager Food & Beverage, DNV GL

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