As part of our Sustainability 2023 report, ESM caught up with industry leaders across a host of leading retail and consumer goods firms to discuss their ESG achievements to date, efforts made to tackle Scope 3 emissions, and what the current cost-of-living crisis means for sustainability – both for themselves and their consumer base.
Florence Jeantet, Chief Sustainability Officer, Danone
Consumers are more and more aware of the global climate and health challenges our societies are facing today, with both health and sustainability being among their top concerns.
For Danone, there is no question we must continue to support farmers in adopting sustainable practices that have environmental, social and economic benefits, while working closely through our brands and with retailers to keep educating consumers on the food they eat and enable them to make healthier and sustainable choices.
Embedding sustainability in business is not new at Danone. Some 50 years ago, our CEO Antoine Riboud gave a landmark speech on how entrepreneurship and social and environmental responsibility can and must feed each other – the 'dual project'.
Société à Mission' Status
Today, we continue to embody and put into practice this pioneering approach. The first publicly-listed company to adopt the 'Société à mission' status in 2020, we have defined four social and environmental objectives that are aligned with the UN sustainable development goals and cover health, planet, people and inclusive growth dimensions.
This also structures internal cross-functional work with all functions – R&I, operations, marketing, categories, procurement, teams – all being instrumental in the achievement of our sustainability targets.
The Scope 3 Challenge
Scope 3 is critical for Danone in its decarbonisation journey, especially when it comes to agriculture, which represents more than 60% of our carbon global carbon footprint.
This is the reason why we put regenerative agriculture at the core of our climate policy in 2017. Since then, we have already achieved good results: in 2021, approximately half of the GHG reductions we made were coming from regenerative agriculture, with broader environmental and social benefits.
Consumers will increasingly demand products that have been generated in a transparent and responsible way. It is also a strong encouragement for us to reflect on how we are currently doing things and how we can do things better to adjust to these new realities, while bringing our consumers high quality, healthy foods that are kind to farmers, animals and the planet.
We need collective mobilisation to drive food transformation and unleash food as a solution. That is why, during COP27, Danone launched, together with other actors from WBCSD, a business call to action that embeds a Food in Climate agenda. It is a call to companies, governments and international organisations to adopt time-bond, science-based targets toward net-zero, with a clear 1.5°C roadmap for food supporting nature, nutrition and equity goals.
Sustainability encompasses a full range of topics – from health, to climate, biodiversity, water use, forest preservation, social progress – that are interconnected, and I don’t think we can afford to pick and choose any more.
Each is equally important, and there is an urgent need to tackle them in a holistic manner, to build sustainable food systems from farm to fork, which will provide healthy food for generations to come and deliver fair value along the chain.
This article first appeared in ESM’s November/December 2022 edition.