Small food firms ranked top for corporate social responsibility

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

The Global Index examines the CSR performance of more than 33,000 companies across nine industries from 2015 to 2017
The Global Index examines the CSR performance of more than 33,000 companies across nine industries from 2015 to 2017

Related tags: CSR

Small food and drink companies were the top-ranked group for their corporate social responsibility (CSR) record in the second annual edition of EcoVadis’ Global CSR Risk and Performance Index. The report shows one of the ways in which firms’ performances are increasingly being measured in core areas, which is why Food Manufacture’s publisher William Reed has launched Rappor. The venture was set up earlier this year to enable manufacturers to benchmark their customer service against their peers and is the subject of this Editor’s Spotlight. Read on for more details on the business.

Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in food and beverage were the best scoring industry group globally in the EcoVadis analysis, with an average score of 46.8. This was reflected across all five geographical regions analysed.

EcoVadis attributed the score – the highest overall score of any portfolio in the last three years – to regulations making it easier for small companies to adopt best practice.

Poor performance

Large food and beverage companies performed much more poorly compared to their smaller counterparts, with an overall score lower than large companies in all other industries.

While they performed well in environmental management, large food firms had poor scores for sustainable procurement and labour and human rights. This echoed investigative journalists’ articles about poor working conditions in factories, claimed the report – such as the joint Guardian​/ ITV investigation of 2 Sisters’ Bromwich plant last year.

According to EcoVadis, the top issues affecting the food industry were tight regulation, pressures from consumers looking for products with healthy ingredients and ecological packaging, and cost pressures stemming from high labour turnover.

More than 33,000 companies

The Global Index examines the CSR performance of more than 33,000 companies across nine industries from 2015 to 2017. Companies are scored between zero and 100 on 21 CSR criteria across four themes: environment, labour practices and human rights, business ethics and sustainable procurement.

Average scores of SMEs consistently improved across the three years in six out of the nine industry divisions, while large companies demonstrated the same result in only three sectors.

Pierre-Francois Thaler, co-chief executive officer of EcoVadis, said: “It is very encouraging to see – despite economic uncertainty, deregulation, and other external pressures that could impact sustainable operations and business longevity – that almost 80%t of companies that have been reassessed two or more times are maintaining or improving their score.”

  • Although it has existed for less than a year, Rappor is already making waves in the industry and now counts Warburtons, Allied Bakeries, Roberts Bakery, Diageo and William Grant among its client base.

Related topics: Supply Chain

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