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Industry Innovation

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the Food Industry

Corporations are Listening to Consumers' Concerns

Decorative graphic showing the components of Corporate Social Responsibility.

id you know the United States throws away more food than any other country in the world?  An estimated 80 billion pounds of food is sent to landfills every year.  

Food waste, whether it be actual food items being sent to the dump or trash from the shipping and manufacturing process, is something everyone should be concerned about.  

Luckily, some corporations are listening to consumers' concerns.  Keep reading to learn which companies are taking corporate social responsibility seriously and applying it to their operations.  

Food Packaging

Single-use plastics are as much of a problem as actual wasted food.  The lifespan of plastic packaging is short, usually six months at most.  

To help brands include package sustainability in their corporate social responsibility efforts, third-party companies have solutions.  

Loop, a U.S.-based company, is working with major brands to reduce the production of single-use plastic.  Loop works with manufacturers and companies to create refillable versions of their food packaging.  

These packing options are made to be durable and include features consumers want.  By introducing these packaging options to e-Commerce sites as well as physical stores, reusable packing is becoming more accessible.  

They also are pursuing scientific solutions to recycling plastic.  Most plastics have been unable to be recycled due to specific compounds in the plastic's makeup.  With Loop's new process of breaking down these materials with low heat and no pressure, these products will see another life.  

Loop has partnered with several brands you already have at home.  Burger King, Ulta Beauty, Walgreens, Kroger, Tesco, and more have officially pledged to work with Loop to create sustainable packaging for their products.  

Sustainable-Sourcing Restaurants

The restaurant industry contributes a large amount of food packaging and food product waste.  It's common for companies to source ingredients from farms that underpay their workers.  These farms may also use non-sustainable farming techniques.  

A few famous restaurant chains have stepped up to their corporate social responsibility and are addressing these concerns.  

Chipotle has strived to be a more sustainable restaurant chain since it began.  They currently source their ingredients from small to medium-sized farms local to their locations.  

Chipotle also has made it a priority to support these farmers.

In 2016, they created the Chipotle Local Grower Support Initiative.  This initiative provides funds to farmers to utilize eco-friendly growing methods and new technology.  Grants, scholarships, and contracts are also given to young farmers.  

Another popular chain, Jimmy Johns, also has committed to sustainability through its corporate social responsibility efforts.  They source many of their ingredients from local farms and created a third-party video surveillance system to monitor poultry handling.  This video system is the third-largest in the meat industry and ensures poultry is treated humanely.  

Jimmy Johns also works to be more eco-friendly with packaging waste.  A majority of their suppliers of items such as cups and napkins are members of sustainability organizations themselves.  Most of their paper and cardboard packing is recyclable or previously recycled materials.  

Employing Farmer-Led Programs

The best way for companies to cut waste from food production is to go right to the source.  Working with farmers to meet their needs ensures food is produced in a way that is sustainable and practical.  Companies might have great ideas, but hearing from farmer-led programs helps to implement these ideas practically.  

Kellogg's has recently partnered with The Nature Conservatory (TNC) to bring solutions most helpful to farmers.  This three-year project is taking place in various regions in the U.S. farming industry.  

Arkansas produces 46% of the nation's supply of rice.  Kellogg's and TNC are giving timers for irrigation to rice farmers to better conserve water usage.  These timers have electric valves that shut off well pumps when land is irrigated.  

In the Midwest, Kellogg's and TNC are aiming to improve soil health.  This helps to reduce runoff and preserve topsoil, which stops contamination into local water sources.  To achieve this, the project will offer farmers financial incentives and technical assistance.  Breaking through the barrier of high costs empowers farmers to use more environmentally-friendly technology and methods.  

Throughout the project, Kellogg's and TNC are meeting one-on-one with farmers and hosting farmer field days to better connect with local farmers.  

Sustainable Sourcing Food Brands

Corporate social responsibility falls not only on farmers and restaurants but also on brands that produce grocery food products.  

Brewer's Crackers, for example, uses recycled grains to create their crackers.  The company noticed the amount of waste American breweries were producing throughout the brewing process.  These wasted grains contribute to the 1 billion tons of waste breweries create every year.  Brewer's Crackers uses these byproducts to create their flavorful crackers.  By combining these leftover grains with flour, Brewer's can make a product by reducing food waste.  

Clif Bar and Company, the makers of the Clif Bar, are also dedicated to reducing waste.  

Clif Bar uses a traceability program to ensure its products are coming from eco-friendly suppliers.  Around 75% of the ingredients used to make Clif Bars are certified sustainable and organic.  Additionally, their goal is to have renewable energy power in 100% of their facilities.  

To reduce its carbon footprint, Clif Bars have planted 150,000 trees and counting.  In their partnership with American Forests, they plant these trees in areas of restoration and wildfire-damaged areas.  

Innovate Your Corporate Social Responsibility

The food industry is one of the leading producers of waste in the world.  Not only does this harm the ecosystem, but it harms humanity's future.  Brands with sustainability included in their corporate social responsibility initiatives are facing these issues head-on.  Dedicating themselves to eco-friendly practices is an innovative way to keep the concerns of customers in mind.  

June 10, 2022