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Economy

Exclusive interview: Fiona Dawson, Mars Food CEO

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Yesterday Mars Food announced its commitment to using 100% sustainably sourced rice by 2020. We asked Fiona Dawson, Mars Food CEO, a few questions about the announcement and more broadly about sustainability.

What does the sustainable rice announcement mean for Mars commercially, socially and environmentally?

As owner of the world’s largest global rice brand, UNCLE BEN’S, we believe it is our responsibility to play a leading role in the development of the SRP (Sustainable Rice Platform) standard. We will be mapping our rice supply chain using the standard, identifying where we have gaps, and developing strategies for improvement. Mars Food has committed to sustainably source 100% of its rice by 2020 using the SRP standard. We made this commitment as part of our Food Purpose – Better Food Today. A Better World Tomorrow. – and consistent with the Mars Mutuality Principle. We believe adoption of the SRP standard represents a win-win for our rice farmers and our business.

And for us as consumers?

More and more, our consumers care about where their food comes from, how it is made, and the impact it has on the environment. Rice production today has a significant negative impact on our planet — it uses roughly 40% of the world’s irrigation water and is responsible for up to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. With Mars Food’s adoption of the SRP standard, our consumers can have confidence that the premium rice they purchase from us is produced responsibly.

Why did Mars do it?

Adopting the SRP standard is the right thing to do – for consumers, for our rice farmers, and for our business. Mars has an interest in ensuring a long-term supply of high-quality rice to continue producing the products our consumers love. Adoption of the SRP standard helps ensure a more sustainable rice crop into the future.  Sustainable rice farming practices can also have a meaningful impact on the environment and farming communities.

We have already begun testing elements of the SRP standard with farmers in India and Pakistan, and research shows that it is possible to reduce GHG emissions and water use, while increasing yields for farmers. By adopting the SRP standard, we are mindful that rice is not only important to us as a business, but it is a staple food for half of the world’s seven billion people, all of whom depend on a sustainable rice crop for years to come.

Apart from a couple of years at Pepsi, you have been committed to Mars, a Fortune ‘top-rated’ company to work for. What’s the personal draw to Mars?

Mars is a great place to work because of its strong commitment to development and its unique relationship-driven culture. It is also a very inspiring business environment – between our Five Principles and our status as a privately held business, Mars Associates have an opportunity to shape our business over the long-term and advance initiatives that are mutual for all stakeholders. Mars Associates feel very passionate about our business and our Principles, and for that reason, many, like me, spend most of their careers at Mars.

You played a role in drawing up the UK’s Responsibility deal in 2011. What is it and what does it mean for retailers, suppliers and consumers?

Through the Responsibility Deal, companies like Mars have committed to taking action to help tackle some of our biggest public health challenges, like obesity. Mars Food U.K. has reduced salt content across its product portfolio, with 90 percent of products meeting the Responsibility Deal’s 2012 salt targets and 94 percent of our pasta sauces already meeting the 2012 targets. In 2011 we launched DOLMIO Bolognese sauces with 100 percent natural ingredients.

Many of our popular bars, such as Snickers, Mars, and Milky Way, have reduced their saturated fat content and meet our target to not exceed 250 calories per portion. We have also instituted workplace wellbeing programs for our Associates. Actions like these provide our consumers and Associates with healthier options as they seek to live balanced lifestyles. The Responsibility Deal works because it is a partnership of government, industry, and NGOs. Together, we can accomplish much more than any one stakeholder or company can alone.

There are 3.6m companies in the UK – how do we reach the point where every company in the UK adopts genuine ‘responsibility’ as a core business, management and leadership discipline? Paul Polman of Unilever said that his own organisation’s progress would be ‘a failure’ if others don’t follow.

While this week’s launch of the first-ever global standard for rice sustainability is a major milestone for the Sustainable Rice Platform and for Mars, it will only have lasting impact if more rice companies and suppliers adopt the standard. We believe our role is to lead by example – to demonstrate that doing the right thing for the environment can actually further growth and that operating as a responsible business is the right thing to do for all stakeholders.

Is corporate action commensurate with the environmental and social challenges we face, from the perspective of one the world’s largest companies?

At Mars, we believe we have a role to play in addressing the major environmental and social challenges we face. That is why we have stepped up to call for action on climate change, why we have invested significantly in renewable energy, why we are moving towards zero-waste-to-landfill across our manufacturing facilities, and why we are taking action on sustainability in our supply chains. Certainly, these challenges require partnership among a diverse range of stakeholders to identify solutions, but we are committed to doing our part.

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Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Economy

Report: Green, Ethical and Socially Responsible Finance

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“The level of influence that ethical considerations have over consumer selection of financial services products and services is minimal, however, this is beginning to change. Younger consumers are more willing to pay extra for products provided by socially responsible companies.” Jessica Morley, Mintel’s Financial Services Analyst.

Consumer awareness of the impact consumerism has on society and the planet is increasing. In addition, the link between doing good and feeling good has never been clearer. Just 19% of people claim to not participate in any socially responsible activities.

As a result, the level of attention that people pay to the green and ethical claims made by products and providers is also increasing, meaning that such considerations play a greater role in the purchasing decision making process.

However, this is less true in the context of financial services, where people are much more concerned about the performance of a product rather than green and ethical factors. This is not to say, however, that they are not interested in the behaviour of financial service providers or in gaining more information about how firms behave responsibly.

This report focuses on why these consumer attitudes towards financial services providers exist and how they are changing. This includes examination of the wider economy and the current structure of the financial services sector.

Mintel’s exclusive consumer research looks at consumer participation in socially responsible activities, trust in the behaviour of financial services companies and attitudes towards green, ethical and socially responsible financial services products and providers. The report also considers consumer attitudes towards the social responsibilities of financial services firms and the green, ethical and socially responsible nature of new entrants.

There are some elements missing from this report, such as conducting socially responsible finance with OTC trading. We will cover these other topics in more detail in the future. You can research about Ameritrade if you want to know more ..

By this report today: call: 0203 416 4502 | email: iainooson[at]mintel.com

Report contents:

OVERVIEW
What you need to know
Report definition
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The market
Ethical financial services providers: A question of culture
Investment power
Consumers need convincing
The transformative potential of innovation
Consumers can demand change
The consumer
For financial products, performance is more important than principle
Competition from technology companies
Financial services firms perceived to be some of the least socially responsible
Repaying the social debt
Consumer trust is built on evidence
What we think
ISSUES AND INSIGHTS
Creating a more inclusive economy
The facts
The implications
Payments innovation helps fundraising go digital
The facts
The implications
The social debt of the financial crisis
The facts
The implications
THE MARKET – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Ethical financial services providers: A question of culture
Investment power
Consumers need convincing
The transformative potential of innovation
Consumers can demand change
PUTTING FINANCIAL SERVICES IN AN ETHICAL CONTEXT
An ethical economy
An ethical financial sector
Ethical financial services providers
GREEN, ETHICAL AND SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE ISSUES IN FINANCIAL SERVICES
The role of investing
Divestment
The change potential of pensions
The role of trust
Greater transparency informs decisions
Learning from past mistakes
The role of innovation
Payments innovation: Improving financial inclusion
Competition from new entrants
The power of new money
The role of the consumer
Consumers empowered to make a change
Aligning products with self
THE CONSUMER – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
For financial products, performance is more important than ethics
Financial services firms perceived to be some of the least socially responsible
Competition from technology companies
Repaying the social debt
Consumer trust is built on evidence
Overall trust levels are high
THE ETHICAL CONSUMER – SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE ACTIVITIES
Payments innovation can boost charitable donations
Consumer engagement in socially responsible activities is high
Healthier finances make it easier to go green
SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE COMPANIES
37% unable to identify socially responsible companies
Building societies seen to be more responsible than banks….
….whilst short-term loan companies are at the bottom of the pile
CONSUMER TRUST IN THE BEHAVIOUR OF FINANCIAL SERVICES COMPANIES
Overall trust levels are high
Tax avoidance remains a major concern
The divestment movement
Nationwide significantly more trusted
Trust levels remain high
CONSUMER ATTITUDES TOWARDS GREEN AND ETHICAL FINANCIAL PRODUCTS
For financial products, performance is more important than principle
Socially conscious consumers are more concerned
CONSUMER ATTITUDES TOWARDS TRANSPARENCY
Strategy reports provide little insight for consumers
Lack of clarity regarding corporate culture causes concern
Consumers want more information
THE ROLE OF FINANCIAL SERVICES FIRMS IN SOCIETY
The social debt of the financial crisis
THE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF FINANCIAL SERVICES FIRMS
For consumers, financial services firms play larger economic role
Promoting financial responsibility
CHALLENGER COMPANIES AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Consumer trust is built on evidence
The alternative opportunity
The target customer

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