The President of the Chilean White Meat Exporters’ Association, Juan Carlos Domínguez, was part of the panel “ESG challenges in the food and beverage industry,” and highlighted that the efficient use of resources is the main variable for the white meat industry to be sustainable.
To provide a space for discussion and analysis, the seminar “Global risks and their impact on the Environment, Society and Governance” was held with the participation of Juan Carlos Domínguez, President of ChileCarne; Margarita Ducci, Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact Chile Network; and Valentina Lira, Concha y Toro’s winery Sustainability Manager on the panel: “ESG challenges in the food and beverage industry,” moderated by Siegfried King, Marsh’s ESG Champion.
One of the topics discussed was the challenge of being sustainable when feeding a world population in constant growth; the importance of sustainability for a company’s reputation; how carbon footprint issues are been addressed in various sectors; and the existing certifications and measurements for sustainability.
The food-producing industry faces the key challenge of being sustainable while providing sustenance to a growing population; ChileCarne’s President highlighted that “the agricultural sector is one of the most affected by climate change. Our problem in protein production is that global grain production is being affected by both floods and drought in different places, and it has shaken our foundations. On the one hand, this is caused by climate change, but also by the increasing demand for food. In 1950, the world population was 2.5 billion people. The UN recently reported that we have reached 8 billion, and by 2050 we will be close to 9.7 billion, so we are a rapidly growing population.”
Talking about disseminating what companies are doing in sustainability, Margarita Ducci said that “the UN believes in the importance of communication. I think it is very important to communicate what companies do and how they contribute not only to the production of goods and services, but also to society. We all have seen the surveys showing a general mistrust, at all levels, but also of companies. There is a lot of criticism of what companies do and that is way it is also crucial to highlight the good things. We also have the opportunity to see what many companies are doing, that they have sustainability plans, that they work on ESG criteria, and are also aware that these factors are key to their long-term survival, and that they are increasingly attracting the interest of foreign investors.”
Similarly, Juan Carlos Domínguez pointed out the work done by the Chilean white meat industry in sustainable production: “we went from declaring good intentions to concrete actions and started measuring. I think the main challenge companies have faced in recent years and that will continue is how to quantify. It is no longer enough to declare a cycle of goodwill on the annual report; the important thing is to say how you are measuring or will measure, and also how you are going to compare; with whom are you going to compare yourself to objectively measure in the financial world. Stop saying that you are doing things right and start demonstrating it, comparing yourself with other countries and other industries to know if the effort you are making and the impact you are having is real or not. In our case, sustainability efforts have focused on efficiency first. The efficient use of resources is by far the main variable for the white meat industry to be sustainable.”
In turn, Concha y Toro’s Sustainability Manager, Valentina Lira added: “since 2012, we have implemented a sustainability strategy called Regenerative Future, and in this regenerative future the company wants to have a positive impact on its various stakeholders: suppliers, consumers, and customers. We also care about the internal and external social aspects, and our planet’s environment as another representative of the company’s stakeholders. Hence, prioritizing the actions that we are going to carry out is key for us.”
Finally, ChileCarne’s President highlighted Chile’s sustainability challenges and how consistency is the key for Chilean products to be considered sustainable. “Our main challenge is at the national level, because your company can make a huge effort but from abroad they are looking at you as part of an industry and a country. If each industry makes a huge effort but the rest of the country doesn’t join in, it is worthless. The country’s image is key, there must be a national conviction that we are headed in this direction. For example, if we tell the Japanese that we are the greenest producers worldwide, and then they go to Santiago and see that it is covered in smog, that goes against us. The main challenge is how to engage everybody, and one goal is to bring in small producers, because the large industry is able to manage and leverage resources, but we must consider those who are left behind. For that, community work is key. Working together with the authorities to find strategies that prevent others from being left out,” Domínguez concluded.
The seminar also featured panel discussions on ESG challenges in the mining, energy, agricultural, forestry, and insurance industries.