ESG: Balancing Purpose against Profit in the Food Sector?

Industry leaders right across the Food sector are taking on the challenges of Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) initiatives. The environmental costs of food production is high on the agenda for several major food groups, and on-going product development strategies are being built with an emphasis on sustainability – hardly surprising, as food production is responsible for 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. These impacts are unsustainable, and the industry has a long way to go.

That said, there is positive news, as Leaders within the sector are committed to tackling these challenges, and this is not just isolated to on-trend food categories and brands that already have a focus on sustainability as part of their USP. The nettle is being grasped by most of the leading Food Groups across protein, dairy, produce and broader chilled and ambient food categories.

In recent weeks, businesses like Kerry Foods have even talked about ditching dairy to pursue health and wellness and sustainability megatrend categories, while Cranswick, one of the UK’s leading protein farmers and processors have demonstrated a huge commitment to reversing climate change by joining “The Climate Pledge” and working towards a zero-carbon future. I could list several more, and it impressive and inspiring to see the Food sector driving such positive change programmes.

With the creation of Certified ‘B Corporations’, certain businesses in the sector are focusing on higher standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, balancing profit and purpose while also accelerating a global culture shift to redefine the definition of success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

As B-Corporation states in its mission statement: “society’s most challenging problems cannot be solved by government and non-profits alone”. The B Corp community of businesses is working toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high-quality jobs with dignity, balancing purpose against profit. Many food businesses are perfectly positioned to promote these ideals and reap the benefits of a more socially aware business strategies.

At Norman Broadbent Group we are involved across many areas of this changing landscape and new focus for business. There is an increase in demand for individuals with experience of driving ESG initiatives, and we are actively delivering solutions to businesses across Food and Consumer that are helping to drive forward their change programmes.  Our Change and Transformation and Digital Practices are well placed to assist and busy delivering the solutions our clients need across ESG areas.

We are also well placed to assist businesses to develop the structures that they need to be put in place to drive this change. From functional Sustainability leadership Search through to Leadership Consulting or market-leading Research & Insight on what the competition may be offering, Norman Broadbent’s range of human capital solutions are well-placed to assist with tackling this new frontier.

If you would like to confidentially discuss the ESG landscape or register your interest in any ongoing events exploring the trends and future of ESG, please contact Alan Gove on +44 (0) 07701 090854 or via