Investor interest in UN sustainability goals on the rise: Chr. Hansen

By Lester Wan

- Last updated on GMT

Chr. Hansen's Annemarie Meisling said it was one of the first to measure revenue in terms of UN's sustainability goals.
Chr. Hansen's Annemarie Meisling said it was one of the first to measure revenue in terms of UN's sustainability goals.
Financial backers are increasingly concerned with food firms' sustainable activity, with Chr. Hansen saying investor interest was a key driver for its decision to assess all its products against the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

This five-step process, which includes external verification, found that that 81% of the company's gross revenue contributes to three of the key goals: Good Health and Well-Being, Zero Hunger and Responsible Consumption and Production. Auditing firm PwC supported the findings.

Annemarie Meisling, director of sustainability at Chr. Hansen, said the firm was one of the first to have gone through its entire product portfolio to measure revenue in terms of sustainability and contribution to the UN Goals, and did so in part because of increasing investor interest.

"I've been in sustainability for more than 15 years and I've not seen investors that proactive. Previously, investors used to be much more focused on risks: how to reduce safety hazards or environmental pollution or corruption, etc. Now they are pushing for the UN Sustainable Development Goals," ​she said.

She said commercial companies, as well as the public sector and NGOs, needed to work harder to achieve the sustainability goals.

"In the future, people will think much more about where it is they have an impact within the core of their business. That's where they really need to focus and to find partners to have greater impact."

She added that the company would continue to improve its assessment against the UN goals, enhance its environmental footprint, and work to reduce energy consumption, converting to renewable sources where possible.

Reducing food waste

Speaking to us in Singapore, she said the greatest sustainability concerns in Asia involved food waste and health.

In 2016, total food waste generated in Singapore was 791,000 tonnes, and this figure is expected to increase. In China, the food service industry wastes 17 million to 18 million tonnes each year — enough to feed 30 million to 50 million people.

She said the company was innovating to create new products to extend shelf life and minimise waste, having recently launched its new series of FreshQ dairy cultures, which inhibit the growth of yeast and mould.

According to consultants commissioned by the company, if FreshQ was added to all yogurt in Europe, food waste could be reduced by 30%, saving €180m and 430,000 tonnes of C02.

FreshQ prolongs shelf life, which means food waste can be reduced in production, as well as at retailer and consumer levels.

Meisling also expressed surprise that Singapore had the second-highest incidence of diabetes among developed countries. The company hopes to provide healthier solutions to some of the food consumed in Asia.

"We would like to support Asian markets by helping the products that are available (on store shelves) become healthier, but with the same good taste,"​ she said.

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