In a recent study, 81% of consumers reported a willingness to make personal sacrifices to address social and environmental issues. Furthermore, these socially and environmentally conscious consumers seek out responsible brands and products whenever possible, giving those items priority in purchasing decisions. As a result, a number of major food brands have started to promote their sustainability practices in an effort to elevate their perceived level of responsibility, sway consumer purchasing decisions and gain an edge over the competition.
We looked at 10 brands who are making strides toward sustainability and getting recognized for it. They – and through them, their loyal customers – are cutting down on waste, chemicals and their carbon footprint.
1. Ben & Jerry’s
In 2001, the Vermont-based ice cream manufacturer was purchased by British-Dutch conglomerate Unilever. While environmentally conscious since their inception in 1978, Unilever bolstered existing efforts by offsetting the carbon footprint from their manufacturing facilities by partnering with NativeEnergy, a Vermont sustainability consultancy, as well as investing “early and often” in efficiencies in their supply chain, retail scoop shops and manufacturing plants.
2. Carlsberg Beer
In 2017, Carlsberg announced an ambitious new sustainability program they call Together Towards ZERO. The four-part endeavor is aimed at climate change, water scarcity and public health concerns, and focuses on the key goals of zero carbon footprint, water waste and irresponsible drinking, as well as an accident-free culture. The plan includes a number of milestone goals, such as a 50% reduction in carbon emissions and 15% reduction in beer-in-hand carbon footprint at their breweries by 2022, with a target of zero carbon footprint by 2030.
3. Celestial Seasonings
The well-known herbal tea company has taken a number of measures to increase sustainability, including buying directly from farmers and supporting rain forest protections. They also place a particular focus on their packaging, including using pillow-style tea bags that don’t require a string, tag, staple or individual wrapper, and manufacturing their recyclable art-covered boxes from 100% recycled paperboard, including 35% post-consumer waste.
4. Clif Bar
First sold in 1992, Clif Bar hired a full-time ecologist to develop an in-house sustainability program in 2001. Since that time, the energy bar manufacturer has won numerous awards for its sustainable manufacturing processes, while switching to 100% sustainably sourced, organic ingredients; providing a stipend to employees who commute to work by bicycle; and investing $10M in organic farming research.
5. General Mills
As part of their sustainability mission, General Mills has committed to focus on climate change, water stewardship and preserving ecosystems, as well as sustainable sourcing, and human rights and animal welfare goals. In 2016, they were able to sustainably source 100% of their palm oil, and their stated goal is to do the same with their remaining top nine priority ingredients by 2020.
Along with working to make all of its tea Rainforest Alliance Certified – a project which helps protect the land, water and people in tea-growing areas – Lipton is committed to finding 100% sustainable origins for its tea leaves by 2020. In addition, the company works to reduce, and when possible, eliminate, the use of pesticides in their farming.
7. Mars, Incorporated
With businesses spanning from Wrigley’s Chewing Gum to Uncle Ben’s Rice, Mars is embracing opportunities to lower their impact by delivering on the Paris Accord and the UN Sustainable Development Goals within a generation. Mars, Inc. has earmarked $1B to achieve these goals with plans to streamline their use of energy and water, simplify supply chains by buying directly from farmers and recreate their recipes without artificial ingredients.
PepsiCo’s efforts focus on creating a healthier relationship between people and food, with specific 2025 goals aimed at transforming the company’s food and beverage product portfolio, contributing to a more sustainable global food system and helping to make local communities more prosperous by promoting environmentally responsible agricultural practices and increasing crop yields, thereby improving growers’ livelihoods.
Already one of the largest retail builders of LEED-certified stores, Starbucks has announced plans to design, build and operate 10,000 “greener stores” by 2025. These coffee shops will focus on efficiency and water stewardship, while being 100% powered by renewable energy from solar and wind projects.
10. Whole Foods
Purchased by Amazon in August 2017, Whole Foods is continuing their environmental stewardship initiatives by sourcing only sustainably caught wild or responsibly farmed fish and seafood, supporting organic and bio-dynamic agriculture, and reducing their waste and consumption of non-renewable resources.