Are Players in the Food Industry Mature Enough to Respond to the Climate Challenge?

How prepared are food industry players to address climate challenges, and what are the primary strategies they're employing to achieve their sustainability goals?
Food Supply Chain
Feb 20, 2024

Nearly one-third of greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to our global food production system, placing the food industry at the forefront of the push for environmental sustainability. From producers cultivating crops to retailers stocking shelves, there’s a sustainability challenge every player in the food value chain must confront head-on. Given the status quo, Carbon Maps, together with Onepoint, launched a barometer—the first of its kind—aimed at gauging the industry's maturity on the subject.

Here, we looked at factors such as how Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) teams are organized within food industry organizations, how far along they are when it comes to carrying out environmental assessments, what are considered to be drivers and barriers to the adoption of climate strategies, and how they implement climate strategies at operational level.

An overview of the results

The results of this first edition of the barometer come from a highly diversified sample of food industry players, specifically 99 different companies ranging from organizations with less than 500 employees to more than 10,000, representing cooperatives, industrial players, distributors, and those in food service/hospitality.

A significant trend observed is the decentralization of the CSR function for large companies with upwards of 5,000 employees. This is indicative of the CSR function following a similar organizational trend as other corporate functions such as finance and human resources.

The barometer also reveals that nearly all respondents have either formalized or are in the process of formalizing climate strategies, with a strong focus on monitoring carbon emissions, water, and biodiversity. When it comes to assessing GHG emissions, responses showed that operational efforts are concentrated on conducting carbon footprint assessments with 76% of respondents having assessed Scopes 1, 2 and 3. On the other hand, the subject of environmental labelling remains an evolving area.

The barometer also indicates that company values and regulatory compliance are the key drivers for adopting climate strategies, while resource constraints and the lack of suitable tools pose as significant barriers. Despite these challenges, there’s reason to be optimistic: the transformation of agricultural practices and sustainable sourcing—neither of which are simple nor advanced subjects—are now being given the highest priority with ~70% of respondents pointing to.

The challenges ahead

Regulatory uncertainty, resource limitations, and market dynamics pose significant obstacles to the adoption and implementation of climate strategies. However, these challenges also present opportunities for collaboration, especially between upstream and downstream players as well as innovation to drive systemic change within the food industry. Formalizing action plans is key to translating intentions into tangible results. Companies are moving beyond rhetoric to develop clear roadmaps with defined objectives, timelines, and milestones for emissions reduction and environmental stewardship. The findings from the barometer underscore both the progress made and the challenges that lie ahead in the food sector's journey towards climate resilience.

For a deeper dive into the barometer's findings and to read responses from food industry experts we've interviewed, you can download the full report by completing the form below.

If you’d like to take part in the next edition of the barometer on climate strategies in the food sector, send us an email at

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