Food suppliers undermining top brands’ climate commitments

The world’s largest meat, fish and dairy producers are failing to match the sustainability commitments of the high-street brands they supply, new research has uncovered.


The study found that 77% don’t measure their greenhouse gas emissions or have meaningful targets to reduce them, including suppliers to McDonalds, Walmart and Nestlé.

This is despite Nestlé, Walmart and McDonalds all publicly committing to slash emissions, with their suppliers also among the worst offenders for deforestation and antibiotic use.

The research – carried out by the $16bn-backed FAIRR investor network – involved analysis of 60 publicly listed animal protein producers with a combined market capitalisation of $324bn.

“It is the companies hidden upstream in the meat and dairy supply chain who face the most significant climate and public health risks," FAIRR founder, Jeremy Coller, said.

“These companies urgently need to address issues such as climate risk to prevent the commitments of their customers, the high-street brands, from becoming nothing but fake promises.”

Venky’s, Hormel Foods, LDC and Cal-Maine Foods are among the suppliers that score worst for measuring and cutting CO2 emissions.

It was also found that none of the 50 meat and dairy firms studied – excluding fish farmers – have a comprehensive policy to address or mitigate deforestation in the regions they source from.

This is despite Walmart aspiring to net zero deforestation in its supply chain by 2020, while the vast majority of beef suppliers do not have a policy to avoid routine use of antibiotics either.

Moreover, 75% of meat and dairy companies, and 60% of fish farming farms, are ranked in the ‘high risk’ category for animal welfare.

“The message from an increasing number of investors is that the food industry must find better answers to the business risks it is facing from more extreme weather patterns and increasing water scarcity," BMO Global Asset Management director for responsible investment, Juan Salazar, said.

"As a first step meat, fish and dairy suppliers must start to echo and act on the commitments some of their big customers are making, for example, reducing emissions in line with the volumes demanded by climate science.”


Image credit: ©Shutterstock


Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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