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The global food and beverage industry improved its performance on the sixth edition of the annual Business Sustainability Risk & Performance Index from EcoVadis.

The Index is based on sustainability performance data from more than 83,000 ratings of almost 53,000 companies across nine industries in five regions of the world. The companies are assessed on criteria across four themes:

  • Environment
  • Labor and human rights
  • Ethics
  • Sustainable procurement

This year saw improved performance overall – the global average across all companies was 49.2, an increase of 5.1 since 2017, when the Index was introduced. More than 65% of companies assessed achieved a rating of “Good” or better, up from 50% in 2017, while the share of companies with a “Partial (medium risk)” rating fell from 45% to 32%. A score of 25-44 represents “Partial (medium risk),” while 45-64 is considered “Good.”

The global food and beverage industry earned a “Good” rating of 51.4, which is up from 46.6 in 2017. However, food and beverage has improved at a slower pace than some other industries. In 2017, food and beverage was the top-rated industry in the report. This year, it ranks third, below both finance / legal / consulting and construction.

The U.S. food and beverage industry scored a 48.2 overall, which is behind Europe (55.5), but ahead of the other regions (Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa and the Middle East). The U.S. scored its highest in 2019 (49.7) and its lowest in 2020 (46.1).

Here’s how the U.S. food and beverage industry scored on each of the themes for 2021:

  • Environment: 48.5 – Good. This is the industry’s second lowest score over the five years. The U.S. is far behind Europe, but roughly in line with the other regions.
  • Labor and human rights: 49.1 – Good. This is the industry’s second highest score over the five years. The U.S. is behind Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean, but above Asia-Pacific and Africa and the Middle East.
  • Ethics: 48.5 – Good. This is the industry’s strongest showing and its highest score over the five years. The U.S. is slightly behind Europe, but well above the other regions.
  • Sustainable procurement: 43 – Partial (medium risk). This is the industry’s second lowest score over the five years. The U.S. is behind Europe, but well above the other regions.

“Increased regulatory pressures and ongoing supply chain disruptions are putting a bigger spotlight on sustainability risks and requiring organizations to rethink their approach to their social and environmental commitments,” Pierre-Francois Thaler, co-founder and co-CEO of EcoVadis said in a press release. “Companies who consistently use a ratings-based engagement strategy are reaching greater levels of sustainability management performance across their value chains – a foundational element to supply chain risk mitigation and resilience.”

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