Asia Protein Buyers reveals opportunities for Indian food companies

The assessment by ARE evaluated 100 regional protein buyers on 40 indicators across 10 sustainability themes, per the Asia Protein Transition Platform investor expected disclosures

Amidst soaring temperatures, a rising population, fluctuating crop yields, and changing dietary patterns, India’s nutritional security faces complex challenges. Food companies are under increased scrutiny from consumers, and investors, and rising regulations on supply chain disclosures for sustainability. What is the current state of India’s listed food companies regarding their protein sourcing and supply chains? How do they compare with other major Asian companies, and what are the key sustainability issues and interdependence in India? The latest Asia Protein Buyers 100 report by Asia Research & Engagement (ARE) reveals that there is some progress since the 2022 baseline report, but still a significant distance to cover in the journey towards responsible and sustainable sourcing across the region. This is especially urgent in India, presenting an opportunity for leadership and greater nutritional security.

The assessment by ARE evaluated 100 regional protein buyers on 40 indicators across 10 sustainability themes, per the Asia Protein Transition Platform investor expected disclosures. The companies include listed manufacturers, restaurants, retailers, and hotels across more than 10 markets, with a combined market capitalisation exceeding $563 billion. Designed as a benchmark for investors, banks, and companies striving for responsible and sustainable sourcing, ARE plans to conduct the assessment every two years. The findings highlight a pressing urgency for responsible and sustainable sourcing among Asian food companies, focusing on the supply chains of animal protein as the most resource-intensive and impacting aspect of our food system. This issue is especially critical for India, where food systems account for 14 per cent of the country’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Enteric fermentation in livestock is the leading cause, contributing to more than half of these emissions.

“Asia’s protein buyers still need to confront the deeply problematic social and environmental impacts and dependencies along their supply chains,” said Kate Blaszak, Director of Protein Transition and Co-author of the report, “The Asia Protein Buyers 100: An Assessment of Responsible and Sustainable Sourcing.” “These direct and indirect impacts pose direct risks to the companies, their investors, lenders, and customers. Forward-thinking protein buyers are tackling these risks as a market opportunity, gaining a competitive and financing edge, and working gradually to rebalance our food system with new plant-based and other smart protein offerings.”

The average overall score for the 100 companies was just 9 per cent, with no company scoring above 50 per cent. The average score across 12 major listed Indian companies was only 7 per cent. “Such low scores might seem disheartening,” said Rituj Sahu, India Director for Protein Transition, ARE. “But there’s increasing awareness of the impacts and inefficiencies of our food system, a strong push from the regulatory authority SEBI, and an opportunity for Indian companies to demonstrate leadership and set integrated sustainability strategies, targets and policies by 2025.”

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