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Being an ethical and sustainable business has never been more important in the food industry.

Consumers, retailers, and stakeholders alike are all looking at suppliers to do the right thing when it comes to environmental, social and governance (ESG) processes. Yet, on the whole, the industry has been slow to act. So much so that a Wall Street Journal survey on ESG metrics showed that only one food business scored in the top 100 of the 5,500 companies studied.

Work clearly needs to be done. And not before time. It is estimated that the food industry is responsible for approximately 26% of the world’s GreenHouse Gas Emissions (GHG) due to extensive crop production, land use, livestock, fisheries, and supply chains.

ESG has altered the way the food industry is measured and judged. To succeed businesses must measure, report, and improve their environmental footprint, social impact, and how they govern themselves.

In the past few years, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of rules and regulations that the food industry must adhere to. Understanding them now and in the future is crucial for any business that wants to be both responsible and resilient. There are financial benefits too. Not only does compliancy to regulations mean not being on the receiving end of potentially crippling fines, but research from MSCI Inc suggests that companies with high ESG scores experienced lower costs of capital, lower equity costs and lower debt costs.

The pressure for greater ESG performance will only increase in the years to come, with companies needing to report results based upon trustworthy, verified data that considers the entire supply chain. Making the need for action today crucial for success.

Evolving compliance guidelines

AdobeStock_567091541The ESG landscape is getting ever more complex. Compliance guidelines regarding ESG are constantly evolving across the world. For compliance and quality managers, site managers and even the C-suite, it can be tricky to navigate. But for an organisation in the food industry, whether it’s manufacturing food or packaging and everything in between, it is critical to be ahead of the change that’s coming. Critical for ensuring compliance, remaining commercially successful, and doing the best thing for the planet.
In June last year, the UK Government set out its new food strategy, designed to create a more sustainable food system that is affordable to all. The strategy makes ambitious commitments to strengthen sustainability in food production, and ultimately strengthen ESG performance of the UK food industry. For compliance and regulation within the industry, the strategy could be a sign of things to come. 
Outside of the UK there are a myriad of other ESG measures have already been introduced: the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a goal to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030; and the European Union’s Single Use Plastics (SUP) Directive aims to ensure that all packaging is either reusable or easily recyclable by 2030.

What’s next?


BRCGS predicts more growing pressure for greater ESG performance and transparency across the food industry. This pressure will come for a variety of different places - consumers, retailers, Governments – and before time the industry will be faced with the same pressures in other industries like oil and gas. What this means is the onus is on the organisations within the industries to report on their ESG performance and improve it to create more sustainable practices.

Transparency and traceability are two key issues that will continue to be a huge focus on upcoming compliance and regulation. This can be difficult when supply chains in the food industry are so long and complex, involving many different organisations and stakeholders. One of the most effective ways to ensure transparency and traceability, is reporting and measurement through real time data. Setting up a digital infrastructure where you can input and measure the ESG practices that are most important to a business and its compliance can help understand how it is doing with ESG and how to be better.

Getting ahead

Luckily, technology can play a crucial role in the building of a digital infrastructure that can measure and report. Our ESG compliance and performance tool – ESG LEAD – has been created specifically for the food industry at this important juncture. It evaluates and analyses ESG performance. This allows food manufacturers, producers, and suppliers to meaningfully measure their impact and make improvements to meet growing ESG requirements and compliance.

Using professional grade expertise and data, ESG LEAD is a more effective way to measure individual ESG performance by site. Curating best practices, the intuitive tool simplifies the ESG universe, distilling complex, inaccessible topics into actionable, practical performance improvements. Mapping against future ESG legislation to put food manufacturers ahead of target deadlines. It provides the roadmap for businesses to differentiate themselves through ESG performance to help unlock future commercial success​.

For more information contact: Damien at