Majority of top food companies now offer vegan alternatives to meat

26th February 2019


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Camille Gilsenan

Five of the world's seven largest food and beverage companies that sell dairy and meat-based products now offer vegan alternatives, research from CDP has found.

In a report published today, the charity also revealed that six in seven household and personal care firms like L'Oréal are replacing petrochemicals with natural ingredients.

Unilver is one of four to have developed vegan personal care product ranges, while three-fifths of all the companies studied have invested in biodegradable plastic and recycling infrastructure.

“Leading companies are taking action across their entire value chain and redefining the role of business in society,“ CDP head of investor research, Carole Ferguson, said.

“And these efforts need to be replicated by others in the sector if they are to justify their role in a society that can no longer be based on fast paced, rising consumption and linear business models.“

However, the research shows that almost 60% of the top 10 revenue-generating brands for each company studied have failed to deliver low-carbon innovations in the last 10 years.

CDP said that, since 88% of these firms generate more than half of revenues from their top brands, they must “up their game“ or risk falling foul of changing consumer demands.

The study found that many companies are buying smaller, sustainable bands in response, with three-quarters merging or acquiring niche environmental brands in the last five years.

This signifies a more than four-fold increase during that time, although CDP said the approach would not be sustainable unless business models stop encouraging ever more consumption.

Moreover, the report highlights how companies remain “highly exposed“ to climate change, with heat stress and water scarcity particularly threatening for diversified food firms like Nestl√© and Kraft Heinz.

Impending packaging and waste regulation is also a risk to many, and despite rising media scrutiny around palm oil, less than half of household and personal care firms are supplied by physically certified sources.

“As consumer facing brands at risk, not just from climate change, but water scarcity and deforestation too, these companies have a unique role to play in driving forward the sustainable economic transition,“ Ferguson said.

“Ongoing activism around plastics and packaging is just the tip of the iceberg, and we expect to see more environmental issues come to the fore as consumers start to question what goes into the products they buy, use and dispose of.“

Image credit: iStock

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