The consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry has a significant impact on global forests. The industry relies heavily upon key commodities such as soy, palm oil and paper. Despite best efforts, many standard practices in the production of these commodities also play a role in deforestation, a pressing issue in the fight against climate change and natural resource degradation around the world.
To tackle this issue, the Consumer Goods Forum, a group of the world’s largest CPG companies, launched the Forest Positive Coalition of Action in 2020. The 19 founding corporate members committed to bolster supply chain collaboration, investment in production landscapes, stakeholder and government engagement, and transparency and accountability in order to root out deforestation from their supply chains.
After introducing key performance indicators (KPIs) in its inaugural Annual Report last year, with a particular focus on industry collaboration and supply chain transparency, the Coalition recently released a second update — highlighting progress and establishing a framework for the future.
The Coalition — which now includes 22 member companies with a market value of over $2 trillion, led by steering committee leader Mondelēz International — has made collective improvements in industry transparency and disclosure, according to the new report. The Coalition is collectively reporting on 62 percent of its performance metrics, a 6 percent increase in collective disclosure rates from the previous year.
Collective action is not limited to within the Coalition, however. The report highlights work with more than 200 stakeholders and relevant organizations across a wide range of interests and impacts — including smallholder farmers, governments, local communities and suppliers.
Not only has this multi-stakeholder approach helped establish the necessary disclosure and transparency KPIs and frameworks, but it has also served as a means of establishing measurable and actionable commitments for suppliers within the value chain.
“Our work with stakeholders sets the scene for much more specific action around what we mean by transparency,” said Christine Montenegro McGrath, senior vice president and chief sustainability officer for Mondelēz International. "We’re also looking at the performance of the suppliers. These KPIs going forward give us an understanding of how suppliers are actually doing and who's making progress, and maybe who's not.”
The Coalition publishes commodity-specific roadmaps to guide members in their efforts to remove deforestation from their supply chains. Recognizing the ongoing impacts of beef production, the Coalition launched a Beef Roadmap earlier this year, joining other commodity roadmaps for palm oil, soy, and paper and pulp.
These guidelines are developed extensively with stakeholders, particularly NGOs, and the Beef Roadmap is no exception. The new guidance came out of the Coalition’s multi-stakeholder approach through dialogue with Brazilian meatpackers, civil society organizations, and Coalition members themselves, with 52 percent of members already reporting on these new KPIs for beef production.
While all of these achievements help the Coalition establish the framework needed to achieve collective action in the fight against deforestation, they ultimately point toward the ultimate goal of forest positivity. Based on other industry terms like “climate positive,” forest positivity refers to moving beyond eliminating deforestation and conversion of natural ecosystems from supply chains and toward having a net positive impact on commodity sourcing areas and the people who call them home.
The Coalition recently launched a number of pilot programs aimed at transforming production landscapes into forest positive ecosystems through significant financial investments. Members are required to invest in these reforestation and community development initiatives, with the ultimate goal to transform an area the size of the Coalition’s collective production footprint by 2030.
Looking toward the future, the Coalition aims to leverage these improvements in transparency, disclosure, and stakeholder engagement to push a shift across the entire CPG industry.
“Originally, deforestation was maybe talked about in some meetings, but there wasn't a roadmap, an action plan or any tangible accountability,” McGrath said. “That’s what we mean by a Coalition of Action. It’s about collective action and impact at scale: Can we get to scale, beyond the current 22 members? Our ultimate ambition is sector transformation, within and beyond the Coalition.”
The achievements detailed in the 2022 report indicate that Mondelēz International and other companies are well on their way to achieving their collective goal of removing deforestation, forest degradation, and forest conversion from industry supply chains. With these recent achievements in establishing industry transparency, marking significant progress on KPIs, and making proactive financial investment in reforestation, the Coalition has made some notable improvements on the road to a more responsible CPG industry and a forest positive future.
This article series is sponsored by Mondelēz International and produced by the TriplePundit editorial team.
Image credit: Vlad Hilitanu/Unsplash
L. Blaine Fulmer is a freelance writer focused on sustainability communications, policy and stakeholder engagement.