Many of us have already heard of Corporate Social Responsibility. With recent events in the world, global warming, COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, companies are rethinking Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to include a sharper focus on several key cornerstones. The new monogram is ESG: environmental, social, and governance criteria, factors according to which investors can assess a company for potential investment.

In one word, capturing ESG-related data for investors requires a deeper look into sustainability initiatives. Key investors have taken note: HSBC is contributing between $750bn and $1trm to investing in companies with proven practices to promote a low-carbon economy. HSBC pledges that they themselves will become a net zero carbon business by 2030 or sooner. This year, the financial giant surveyed 1,000 global issuers and 1,000 investors. The survey revealed that sustainable investing is becoming mainstream, as well as how the COVID-19 pandemic is changing attitudes amongst market participants.

Further, the results of the 2020 Survey of 2,000 market participants across 34 territories can be summarized in the following points:

  • One of the key drivers for environmental and social engagement is risk and return.
  • Globally reported obstacles to sustainable investing are reducing.
  • Barriers remain, with one of the biggest challenges being the lack of comparability of issuers’ ESG data.

On June 9, 2021, at the Environment Analyst Global Business Summit 2021‘s third session, all speakers were in agreement that data is key to promoting ESG. They also underscored the urgent need for greater consistency and standardisation of environmental and sustainability data so that companies can make sense of these disruptive changes in society, the environment, and in consumers’ demands.

GHD’s executive advisor on ESG, climate change and strategic sustainability, Craig Riley, opened the session. In his keynote address, he emphasized the importance of data for elucidating ESG criteria for business investment. “Stakeholders want the information to make assessments and this is where ESG comes in,” he said. “The ‘G’ is about how organisations manage these non-financial risks which comprise a dizzying array of topics.”

Washington-based Adrian Bliss, Mott MacDonald’s environment and sustainability account leader in international development, agreed. “Climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, water resources, waste management, animal welfare, diversity and inclusion, corporate governance, the balance of boardroom diversity, gender issues and the list goes on,” he said. “This has led to a multitude of standards but there are drivers that are pushing the industry in the right direction.”

The food and beverage industry specifically is getting on board the digital revolution using digital technology to cut waste and ensure environmentally friendly production and ethical distribution to consumers.

In a recent Harris Poll, three-quarters of the 18- to 34-year-old market said that they would be more confident in brands that offer a comprehensive online ordering system, including text capabilities for ordering, paying, and more, order-ahead for dine-in.

Other considerations for sustainable food tech implementations in the food and beverage industry include:

Technological Trends In Restaurants Examples
Voice technology Alexa, Google assistant, Siri
Chatbots A platform of Facebook, What apps or custom mobile apps
Self-ordering kiosk Most large restaurant chain like KFC has developed a custom kiosk.
Handheld ordering devices Taken by the servers integrated with restaurant POS system
Custom restaurant mobile app Fully- integrated system for monitoring all processes
Kitchen Display Systems (KDS) Ensure smooth communication among front of house staffs and kitchen staff
Tabletop Ordering System Digital menu technology
Inventory management systems Toast, POSist


Digitizing the food and beverage industry to meet the needs of increasingly environmentally aware consumers in a changing world certainly does not mean a loss in profits. Food tech promises to bring US$250 billion by the end of 2022. Considering these following factors will help the food industry take advantage of the digital revolution to corner this market in these difficult times, as well as meet ESG goals:

  • Connectivity: Seamless connectivity is what is next, as well as relationship-building over exhaustive social media channels. Chick-fil-A has created a mobile app, for example, to serve a customer base, even through COVID-19 lockdown.
  • Curation: Restaurants and the food industry are now using data-driven solutions to personalize their menus and service.
  • Experience: Some restaurants are like other digitizing industries moving away from brick-and-mortar to provide new pandemic-friendly solutions such as digital kitchens, differentiated spaces and environments, and contactless, order-ahead options.
Categories: Digital Revolution
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