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Corporate Knights’ (CK) Global 100 ranking of the most sustainable corporations has been released this week. Only three food and beverage producers are on the list. McCormick & Co was #22, Hong Kong company Vitasoy entered the list for the first time at #90, and Campbell Soup Co #93.

Food and biosciences company Chr. Hansen was #2. Last year the company announced it had developed SafePro, a solution to inhibit the growth of listeria bacteria using naturally occurring ‘good bacteria’ strands, which can be sprayed onto foods during the manufacturing process (Food & Drink Business, 08/11/2019). 

CK says the belief that companies must focus on maximising shareholder returns above all else is starting to crumble. Investors are more informed and aware that the environment, health and safety in production and supply chain and governance have direct implications for the bottom line and share performance. 

In its 14th year, the index shows that companies on the list since it began in 2005 have outperformed the MSCI All Country World Index (ACWI), returning 7.3 per cent compared to the ACWI seven per cent on an annualised basis.

Almost half of the list are European companies (49), then the US and Canada (29) and 18 companies from Asia.

CK said the largest sector represented was financial services (18) with 12 banks part of that. For CK, the high representation suggests investors and lenders have an advanced understanding of taking sustainability issues into account to help business performance.

For CK, the ultimate measure of sustainability is longevity. “[I]t is striking that the average age of G100 companies – at 83 years – is almost double that of the 49 years for companies in the ACWI.”

The G100 outperforms on other ESG criteria. The average CEO pay ration is 76:1 against 302:1. The number of women on their boards is 30 per cent in comparison to 24 per cent and female executives (20 per cent versus 17 per cent).

“Another key area in the list where sustainability and financial performance collide is the carbon-productivity measure of revenue per tonne of CO2 emitted,” CK said.  

“Carbon productivity is becoming increasingly important as a business issue, and here the G100 members have a clear advantage, earning $384,077/tonne against the ACWI’s $173,600 on a weighted basis.

“It is also notable that the proportion of the G100’s revenues that derive from “clean” sources has risen to 37%, from 26% last year.”

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