World leaders and corporate powerhouses convened in Glasgow this month for COP26; the most important climate change event in a generation. And many food and beverage brands recognised this conference as the perfect moment to make serious commitments to sustainability. 

For those of you unable to attend the conference, we’ve put together a round-up of five CPG brands that made a bold statement about their green credentials – along with a wider perspective on why COP26 was so significant for the food and beverage industry. 

1.Tate & Lyle

Tate & Lyle used COP26 to announce that the company has eliminated the use of coal-based energy across all its global operations – four years ahead of schedule. 

The 160-year-old brand has already committed a number of eco-friendly initiatives between now and 2030 including reducing water usage, supporting sustainable agriculture, and participating in programmes like the Pro-Enrich project that use food waste beneficially. 

2. Tennets 

The Scottish brewer is based at Glasgow’s Wellpark Brewery, just a stone’s throw from where COP26 was held, so it made sense that Tennets used the conference to make a big splash around sustainability. 

The company launched a new digital and OOH advertising campaign across the city to coincide with COP26, featuring the real-life Tennets suppliers and employees. Designed to promote the benefits of local brewing, it promotes the brand’s £14 million investment in environmental initiatives – including the installation of a new carboard packaging plant to get rid of single-use plastics from its range. 

Tennets’ sustainability campaign coincided with the UK brewing industry revealing its roadmap to net zero at COP26. Members outlined how the sector can reduce direct and indirect emissions, including the disposal of waste packaging. 

3. Hellmann’s

While Tennets chose to go big on brand advertising, Hellmann’s took an experiential marketing route to amplify its sustainability commitments during COP26. 

The condiment company partnered with artist Itamar Gilboa to create a public art installation entitled The Food Waste Effect, using replica plastic food and drink to visualise what the average UK family wastes in just six months.

4. Heura

COP26 coincided with World Vegan Day on 1st November, and plant-based meat brand Heura used this alignment to launch new industry research revealing that cutting meat and dairy products from consumers’ diets could reduce people’s carbon footprints by up to 73%. 

Heura created a large-scale projection entitled Elephant in the Room, warning world leaders that they are ignoring the ‘single biggest way’ to tackle the climate crisis at individual level by not encouraging people to adopt a plant-based diet. 

5. The Vegetarian Butcher

As a sponsor of COP26, Unilever was always going to take a strong viewpoint during the event, and its meat-free brand The Vegetarian Butcher announced a new partnership with Sainsbury’s – another event sponsor – during the conference. 

Together, The Vegetarian Butcher and Sainsbury’s will launch a carbon footprint personal shopper service at selected supermarkets, offering personalised advice on how consumers can make small changes to their weekly grocery consumption to become more eco-friendly.

What can food brands learn from COP26? 

The five stories we’ve shared are great examples of how food and beverage brands can use a global event to amplify their credentials and commit to reducing their climate footprint. However, COP26 involved far more than memorable stunts and new strategic partnerships. 

On a national and global level, the conference called for greater eco-efforts and accountability within companies, to slow the clock on climate change.  

For example, the UK Treasury proposed that all stock exchange listed firms outline how they will become net zero before 2030; en route to the government’s 2050 deadline for reaching a national state of carbon neutrality. 

The subject of greenwashing was also put under a microscope, with Ashley Alder, chair of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) noting that companies’ sustainability credentials need to be comparable across the world to make meaningful claims. This concern was highlighted in our recent look at whether an eco-scorecard will end beauty industry greenwashing.  

These discussion points demonstrate that the journey towards more eco-friendly brand practices are two-fold: making environmentally positive sourcing, manufacturing and distribution changes, and then marketing them appropriately. And this is a subject that Hooley Brown is passionate about. 

Food and beverage brands have a major opportunity to help consumers cut their carbon footprint by making smarter product choices – but for those changes to drive revenue and accelerate industry-wide change, shoppers need clear credentials they can trust on product packaging. 

As experts in product labelling compliance, we want to help CPG companies showcase their sustainable credentials in a consumer-friendly way, which also meets food industry regulations. 

If you’re a food and beverage brand striving for greater sustainability, Hooley Brown can help you meet sector legislation and adhere to rising standards, at the same time as promoting your eco initiatives across your labelling, packaging and online product listings. 

Get in touch to talk to us about environmentally friendly labelling strategies. You can also follow Hooley Brown on LinkedIn for more sustainable brand insights.

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