Adventures in Pet Food

Debbie Phillips-Donaldson, editor-in-chief of Petfood Industry, shares her insights and opinions on all things pet food, addressing market trends as well as news and developments in pet nutrition, food safety and other hot topics for the industry.

Nestle Purina's parent company ranks among top 'green' firms

Nestlé, parent company of Nestlé Purina PetCare, ranks among the top 11 companies worldwide for corporate sustainability practices. So says Two Tomorrows, which bills itself as an international corporate sustainability agency, in its recently released Tomorrow's Value Rating


The annual rating aims to identify those firms that "walk the talk" in terms of sustainability, the TVR report says. "The premise is that there are many companies discussing responsible, sustainable and green approaches to business in very compelling ways, but which of them will be able to deliver on their promises? And which companies have shiny sustainability reports, but are likely to disappoint in the medium to long term?" 


To answer those questions, Two Tomorrows says it looked for leading characteristics of sustainability management, measuring the attributes by:


  • Governance structures
  • Management along the entire value chain
  • Stakeholder engagement processes
  • Commitment to innovation 

To be considered for the ranking, companies had to be included in three or more other sustainability rankings, such as ones from Newsweek and Interbrand. (In other words, TVR relies on others to do its initial homework.) How the companies' practices or attributes are scored is not clear in the report, nor does Two Tomorrows explain exactly how it arrived at the eight tiers (ranging from the top Aaa down to C) in which the companies are grouped. All the website says is the 2011 TVR results are "presented as sustainability investment bands to reflect the premise that the potential to deliver long-term sustainability performance is an indicator of future share price." (With the standard disclaimer that Two Tomorrows doesn't recommend or endorse any specific investments, provide investment advice, etc.) 


I also wish that the report had included information as to why each of the top 11 companies -- Campbell's, Danone, General Electric, Glaxosmithkline, HP, Intel, Nike, Panasonic, Siemens and Unilever in addition to Nestlé -- scored so highly. The report does mention specifics on a few of the firms as case studies illustrating key findings -- for example, Nike exemplifies how "innovation is the cutting edge of sustainability" -- but that's it. And some of these case studies are about companies in much lower tiers than Aaa. 


Still, I have to give kudos to Nestlé and the others. Nestle Purina, for example, has introduced entire new brands designed to be eco-friendly, and the North American division earned the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2010. While that award doesn't track sustainability per se, it does measure and honor many related factors and practices. 


Yet you can't help but notice that all the companies in the TVR, and especially the top 11, are huge, multinational firms or conglomerates with the resources to "walk the talk" when it comes to sustainability. Going green often means more green for companies, in terms of money saved from reducing energy use and waste, for example. Unfortunately, it still takes a lot of green to go green in the first place.



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