Congratulations to 11 OU Kosher Certified Companies for Being Named Responsible Companies

For the second year, Newsweek magazine has announced its list of “America’s Most Responsible Companies.” Using data and a survey of consumers, these 399 businesses were chosen because they care about environmental impact, ethical governance and giving back to their communities.

Of the 14 food and beverage companies on the 2021 list, 11 are certified by OU Kosher. 

Social Responsibility for Hormel Foods, Modelez International, ADM and J.M. Smucker

Hormel Foods tells a powerful story about Justin Krell, a fifth-generation farmer, who borders on the Minnesota watershed, and relies solely on his crop for a living. He’s willing to do what it takes to improve his yield and the bottom-line. He’s helped along the way by a public and private partnership, of which Hormel is a member. This partnership offers water conservation tips to nourish the soil and has helped Krell maximize output from his land.

Located in Minnesota, Hormel Foods, feels they have a stake in assisting local farmers and giving back to the community. “It’s right in our backyard,” says Tom Raymond, director of environmental sustainability at Hormel Foods. This is in tune with the vision of the company as a whole, for in another article, Jim Snee, CEO of Hormel Foods, said, “For nearly 130 years, Hormel Foods has continued to showcase its citizenship and stewardship by using its size and resources to make a difference. From sustainable packaging initiatives to water and energy stewardship, our global team of inspired people is committed to making lasting and measurable progress in protecting our natural resources.”

Mondelez International feels a social responsibility to protect children in West Africa that can be exploited through the cocoa supply chain. They discuss this in detail as it’s a high priority. To them, putting a stop to Child Labor is at the top of their agenda. They set up a Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) to address this issue. There are over 500 communities now covered by this initiative. The program includes education and how to correct the problem. They partner with other powerful organizations to put an end to this exploitation.

ADM, based in Chicago, is helping their fellow residents in addressing food scarcity. As the company noted in a press release, they made an $8,000,000 investment for this purpose, in addition to funding COVID-19 research to try to better understand the disease and lessen its impact. ADM has extended its social responsibility worldwide by teaming up with Water.org to bring clean water to impoverished nations. As they tell over, an example of this can be illustrated through Rajshri, a 45-year old widow, living in India. She had to rely on getting her water from a village outpost. However, it was difficult for her to always walk there and the availability was unpredictable. Water.org has created ways to divert water directly to people’s houses. After installing a system that brought water directly to her home, Rajshri no longer had to walk to access the water and she had a consistent supply. “Our work together ultimately focuses on improving the availability, quality and accessibility of water for all,” said Alison Taylor, ADM Chief Sustainability Officer. 

Just to give a few examples, J.M. Smucker has been active in the areas of disaster relief, child development and mental support. As they discuss, they have partnered with other major organizations, such as the American Red Cross, United Way and Habitat for Humanity, that help with disaster relief. For their own employees, they created a child development center as they feel strongly about giving back to their own. They also recognize the importance of mental health and offer these services at no cost to their employees.

Environmental Impact for Molson Coors, Conagra Brands, Bunge and McCormick

Molson Coors is taking the concern over carbon emissions and importance of renewable energy to another level. As they note, they are creating programs that are verifiable and working with established organizations that can create scientific targets. One of their goals is to reduce all carbon emissions by 50% by year 2025. This plan is in concordance with Science Based Targets that are in tune with the Paris Climate Agreement.

As an article explains, they have taken a bold step in the United Kingdom by putting into place goals to have all of their factories run by renewable energy. They entered into a ten-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with RWE, a German company that uses only green electricity. RWE will deliver around “75 gigawatt hours of green electricity annually.” Tom Glover of RWE said, “We are delighted to enter into long-term partnerships with pioneers like Molson Coors, as this demonstrates that climate protection is possible under market conditions. RWE is committed to a carbon-neutral future and we’re constantly expanding our renewables portfolio to achieve this.”

As reported by ProFood World, this past year on World Environment Day, Conagra Brands recognized different factory teams across the country that came up with sustainable solutions for the environment. The winners all had a say in distributing $30,000 in grants provided by Conagra Brands to local communities to help in sustainable efforts. The results of the competition were staggering: reduction on the carbon imprint by over 90 metric tons, waste reduction by 12,300 tons and conserving 564 million gallons of water. One team came up with a way to decrease plastic usage, saving over $1 million in costs. They have also made strides in reducing their carbon imprint with their plant-based sourced proteins. Katya Hantel of Conagra Brands said regarding this, “As an industry leader in plant-based protein innovation, we are well positioned to meet the needs of investors, customers, and consumers who are calling for more sustainable foods.”

Bunge notes that they have a “public commitment to reaching deforestation-free value chains by 2025.” It’s estimated that 25% of greenhouse gases are released due to deforestation. They are a prime distributor of palm oil and have put much stock in conserving and cultivating the land with a non-burning of trees policy. Bunge has technology whereby they can attain images of all of their farms in the world and share this technology with all parties as part of the Bunge Sustainable Partnership. Rob Coviello, Bunge’s Chief Sustainability Officer said, “We recognize the important role we can play in our industry. This unprecedented initiative is a way for Bunge to share with its supply chain the best practices we use to build value chains that are traceable and verifiable. We value our partnership with dealers and producers to make our supply chains increasingly productive and sustainable and we believe that solutions at-scale and with long-term impacts are only possible when all partners in the value chain, from farmers to customers, are involved and engaged.”

In a groundbreaking program, as reported by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), McCormick has teamed up with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Citi to give suppliers of McCormick financial incentives if they hold to sustainable goals. Adoniro Cestari of Citi said, “Bringing this sustainable financing solution to life is a huge milestone for us. Citi is committed to helping clients achieve their sustainability objectives, especially with respect to supply chains and environmental challenges. We are working with clients around the world to help them balance environmental and economic needs, adhere to defined standards, and manage risks in their supply chains. Helping to support the sustainability of the supply chains and stimulating international trade flows are critical priorities for us. Rana Karadesh of IFC said, “Promoting sustainable business starts with clear incentives.” He goes on to say, “That’s why we’re proud to support McCormick’s sustainability goals and build upon IFC’s sustainability goals and work with them to enhance IFC’s trade finance offering. Such initiatives help make sustainable business good business for emerging market players.”

Corporate Governance for Campbell’s, Keurig Dr Pepper and General Mills

Appreciating cultural differences between employees is a top priority for Campbell’s in the corporate governance area. As they note, a “Cultural Immersion Week” took place this past May. Each day they would explore another culture. Camille Pirece is their Chief Culture Officer and in an interview describing her duties, she said, “I’m focused on everything that governs our behaviors and interactions with one another, including with our strategic priorities which include building a winning team and culture. That starts with our values, and how we bring those to life every day, so that everyone can be real, and feel safe, valued, and supported to do their best work.” She has a strong focus on creating “the most inclusive leaders we possibly can. This is the foundation that will support all the other work within our strategy.” 

As an article notes, After the Keurig Dr Pepper merger, the company adopted a motto, “Drink Well. Do Good.” Bob Gamgort, CEO of Keurig Dr Pepper, said that this represents “…our new vision for corporate responsibility, backed up by specific goals that will set the pace for our transformation.” Their code of conduct is clear. Just to name a few of their enunciated implementations : a commitment to equality with a zero tolerance policy, responsible political engagement to ensure ethical sourcing procedures and a careful watch not to do business with companies that are in violation of human rights. They have tied their services with ethical ideals that makes them a good example for sound corporate governance.

One of the many standouts of General Mills is in the area of corporate governance. As they note, they have put a strong emphasis on marketing and advertising ethically with no false representations. They hold themselves to a standard that all the marketing and advertising must be communicated with respectful language. Also, in terms of advertising to kids, they have strict guidelines. They will only advertise to kids on suitable channels with appropriate content. In terms of schools, they will not advertise to children ranging from pre-K to 12th grade. Also, they won’t market to anyone under 13 unless the product is nutritionally suitable. 

Steven Genack
Steven Genack has worked at OU Kosher for nearly ten years with a specialty in ingredients. He is an attorney and former editor of a newspaper. He has a wide array of interests including playing tennis, golf and basketball and reading biographies and memoirs.