The 350 companies assessed in the 2021 Food and Agriculture Benchmark span the entirety of the food and agriculture value chain. The ranking encompasses companies active in the agricultural input, agricultural products and commodities, animal protein, processing and manufacturing, retail and food service segments.
Unilever tops the 2021 Food and Agriculture Benchmark, followed by Nestlé and Danone. The top ten is made up of fertiliser company OCP (fourth), brewing and beverage companies Anheuser-Busch Inbev (fifth) and Diageo (ninth), food and beverage processor Pepsico (sixth), retailer Tesco (seventh), dairy cooperative Fonterra (eight) and the ingredients company Firmenich (tenth). Notably, the top ten includes companies from all benchmark segments except for food service, demonstrating that companies from across the value chain are showing leadership on sustainable development issues in the food system.
While companies at the top of the ranking demonstrate that they are meeting societal expectations on a variety of topics, the overall average benchmark performance is low. Almost two-thirds of the companies in scope fail to obtain a quarter of total scores, demonstrating significant room for improvement across all measurement areas. Animal protein producers are over-represented in this group, with less than one in five companies meeting this basic threshold, followed by food servicers. However, companies in all segments can improve when it comes to addressing their environmental impact, improving nutrition and disclosing commitments to respect human rights.
Looking at average scores by segment, the overall best performance in the benchmark is by food retailers, closely followed by food and beverage processors and agricultural input companies. However, given that the average score in all segments falls below the 25 point threshold, there is a clear need for companies from across the value chain to improve their performance on sustainability issues. Currently, the world’s most influential companies are falling a long way short when it comes to their contribution to transforming the food system.