Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to present at the 2020 Vitafoods Europe Virtual Expo and discuss how consumer packaged goods companies can manage profits while meeting their sustainability goals. Sustainability in business starts with a vision for impact, but having a viable business is key to making that vision a reality. Finding a solution that maintains profit but is also right for your business will lead to a more sustainable, authentic and efficient outcome.

It all starts with purpose. A recent global consumer survey showed that people are 4-6 times more likely to purchase, champion and protect purpose-driven businesses – a clear business case and motivation for companies to define purpose.* To bring this to life, my presentation focused on case studies of companies and structures that support sustainability and impact in business, while also emphasizing consumer trends favoring shifts towards more purpose-driven business models. A few key takeaways:

  • Certified B Corporations are leaders of a global movement of people using business as a force for good™. Unlike Fair Trade or other product-based certifications, B Corp looks at the entire business, not just the supply chain or end product. The assessment for certification uses credible, comprehensive, transparent, and independent standards of social and environmental performance. It’s a pragmatic and practical management tool for taking a systematic look at your business and realizing impact.
  • Danone North America carved out a path for other large corporations seeking B Corp certification when it became the largest Certified B Corporation in the world. In the UK, Danone leveraged their B Corp status for product differentiation and employee engagement. When they collaborated with Waitrose to launch a B Corp hub on their e-commerce website, make it easier for consumers to find B Corp products, they saw a significant year to date sales increase.
  • Last year, Unilever’s Knorr brand launched Future 50 Foods, highlighting fifty different foods that are better for health and the planet. The initiative focused on supply chain shifts in multiple countries to support local farmers and grow consumption of certain vegetables, plant-based proteins and a higher variety of grains. The result? Real-time metrics and increased brand visibility.
  • Eat Well Global co-developed Nutrition at Work: A practical guide for businesses with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and the Scaling Up Nutrition Business Network (SBN) details how to improve the nutrition of meals/snacks served to workers in low and middle-income countries, while also showing how a healthy workforce can also be good for business.

Companies with sustained positive impact have moved beyond siloed corporate social responsibility activities and towards integrated efforts that align with their overall business and strategy and purpose. That’s when good nutrition truly is good business.


*Findings from the 2020 Zeno Strength of Purpose study, which included 8,000 global participants