Every year, the Ethisphere Institute, an organization dedicated to defining core corporate ethics standards, releases its list of World's Most Ethical Companies—culled from reams of data spanning five key categories: ethics and compliance programs, corporate citizenship and responsibility, culture of ethics, governance and leadership, and innovation and reputation. The org's 2017 list of most ethical companies just dropped—and only five food companies made the cut.
According to the list, these five food companies are among the most ethical corporations in the world: Grupo Bimbo, a baking company based out of Mexico City whose brands include Coronado, Sara Lee, Boboli, Arnold, Entenman's, and Thomas'; Illycaffe Spa, the Italian coffee company; Ingredion Incorporated, which manufactures sweeteners, starches, nutrition ingredients and biomaterials found in foods and pharmaceuticals; Kellogg Company, who produce cereals and other packaged foods such as Pringles, Cheeze-Its and Keebler cookies; and PepsiCo, whose brands include the soft drinks empire as well as other supermarket items, such as Quaker oatmeal and Lay's potato chips.
"Over the last eleven years we have seen the shift in societal expectations, constant redefinition of laws and regulations and the geo-political climate," Ethisphere CEO Timothy Erblich said in a statement. "We have also seen how companies honored as the World's Most Ethical respond to these challenges. They invest in their local commnities around the world, embrace strategies of diversity and inclusion, and focus on long term-ism as a sustainable business advantage."
As consumer spending habits shift away from brand loyalty and towards more conscientious consumerism, can a publicly-displayed badge of ethical honor sway buyers to make a purchasing decision? It remains to be seen. What we do know is that shoppers are changing the way they think about how they fill their carts.
"It’s probably the most exciting time in food retailing ever," Phil Lempert, an analyst who’s tracked the industry for 25-plus years and runs the site Supermarket Guru, told us last year. “A lot of retailers are energized. They’re realizing they need to do something dramatic to meet the evolving needs of their customer base. It’s all about changing the experience.”