Brands’ extensive adoption of corporate social responsibility initiatives has led to a shift to consumers’ perception of them as agents of legitimate change. Seventy-six percent of U.S. consumers agree that brands maintain the capability to change society for the better, according to a Mintel report on “Attitudes Towards Corporate Social Responsibility.”
A recent virtual gathering of food and beverage brands discussing “How Corporate Altruism Can Make a Difference and Drive Business Growth,” brought many examples of how brands are dealing with hunger, recycling, sustainability, and disaster relief in a time of COVID-19 and increased focus on dissecting social and racial injustice.
The nonprofit Feeding Pennsylvania supports nine of Feeding America’s food banks. It established the Charitable Food Network to create alliances with brands like Chobani and Cargill to help support efforts to eliminate food insecurity in school systems and throughout the state.
With only 20% of food bank funding coming from the government, companies play an important role in sustaining them. The Federal Emergency Management Agency cites donations from the private sector as instrumental in its disaster response, as well.
Kellogg’s, whose COVID-19 global hunger relief has surpassed $17 million, also took on the role of illuminating where social injustice occurs within the food ecosystem to help change attitudes and behaviors. The company believes racial and social injustice touches every part of the food ecosystem.
Kellogg’s is also looking to implement stateside its fully recyclable cans used for Pringles in Europe.
Loop, a sustainable/reusable packaging company, is working with brands including Grupo Bimbo, Tropicana, and Nature’s Path Organic to diminish the use of household single-use plastic.
The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment represents 250 of the world’s biggest food and drink companies and aims that, by 2025, 100% of plastic packaging will be safely reused, recycled or composted.
Campbell’s “Giving That Matters” program has led to the creation of healthy corner stores, schools with gardens, youth athletics, improvements in school cafeteria food and co-investment from community partners, serving local areas in need.
Tyson has supplied tens of millions of meals, pounds of food and monetary donations across more than 14 states in the wake of recent hurricanes and earthquakes.
All attendees agreed that consumers expect brands to have a voice in global issues, and to support their communities. When tackling challenging issues, companies wrestle with responding as a corporation or individual brand, and the expectations and impact for each. How will the message be interpreted and integrated by the community?
Companies and brands are most successful when they take the time to facilitate thoughtful and difficult conversations, and act in a way that is consistent with their core values and consumer expectations.