Mondelēz International has released their 2020 report showing progress towards their 2025 sustainability goals, defined around three areas of the ‘Right Snack’, the ‘Right Moment’ and the ‘Right Way’.
Summary. If You Don’t Want to Read the Article
There is a full press release at the end of this article, but first, we wanted to write about our experience as a ‘layman reader’ in trying to make sense of and validate some of the statements provided. Mondelēz International is a large company that makes more than just chocolate, so we’ve isolated the cocoa industry in our discussion where that’s possible. Many of the numbers, of course, are aggregated to represent the companies overall performance.
If you don’t want to read the whole article, we can summarise by saying that it is a frustrating experience to read the reports. You must cross-reference multiple sources and reports that Mondelēz publishes. It requires a lot of reading, which will put most readers off, and it leaves me wondering who they produce these reports for?
And all of that is a shame, because there is, in fact, some good information to be found. If you’re willing to put the time into finding it.
A Brief Analysis
If you ever have to do detailed work on financial spreadsheets, you’ll know the frustration of trying to identify where a number comes from, when it just keeps referencing other numbers in other cells. I was reminded of this phase in my life when I tried to get understand the ‘real’ data from Mondelēz Internationals recent report – the ‘Snacking Made Right’ Agenda. At first glance it looks informative, let’s pick a couple of examples.
- CO2: 15% reduction in CO2 emissions across manufacturing operations by 2020 – Exceeded – 20+%
- Cocoa Life: 100% volume for chocolate brands sourced through Cocoa Life by 2025 – On Track (68%)
First I started cross-referencing some of the numbers to see if they were consistent. I want to be clear here that I’m not an auditor, nor a sustainability expert. There are many ways in which I probably have made mistakes, got my numbers wrong, or misunderstood the data.
But, I’m also operating under the assumption that these reports are for public consumption, and therefore should be understandable to a relative layman.
The first challenge is the way they refer in some places to CO2 reduction and other times refer to GHG (Green House Gasses). CO2 is one type of Green House Gas, there are many others, such as Methane. Since I didn’t see other GHG’s referenced, I decided that in this context Mondelez is associating GHG with CO2 for these reports. Below is a screenshot from their ESG Dashboard Progress report. They say that they have exceeded their target of a 15% reduction in CO2 by 2020.
Next we see in the ESG Data Sheet for years from left to right, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017
In 2017 the CO2 metric ton produced are 1,494,340 and in 2020 it’s 1,527,318, which is an increase, not a reduction. Even if we took the previous year 2019 which produced 1,758,608 metric ton’s we get a reduction in 2020 of only 13%.
I’m confused – where is the 20% coming from, unless it’s a reduction relative to an overall production number? I wondered when I read the statement again if there is some meaning to the words ‘across manufacturing operations’. Are the two not in fact comparable? One is the CO2 output in total (for scope 1 & 2 emissions) and one is perhaps a subset for just manufacturing operations? If so, isn’t that intentionally misleading? Very happy if someone can put me straight on this.
Item number 2 on my list to check was ‘Cocoa Life: 100% volume for chocolate brands sourced through Cocoa Life by 2025 – On Track (68%)‘. So what does this mean in practical terms? To find out, we have to go to the Cocoa Life website and see what they say about sustainability?
There is an ‘Impact’ section in the menu, so we look here and find the graphic below:
Terms like how many cocoa farmers are ‘reached’ are unhelpful if the benefit to the farmer of being ‘reached’ is not defined. There is a reference to an annual report which we go and find a ‘Progress Blog’. In this blog, you still have to drill down further into each story, and here we start seeing some useful numbers. Here’s what they say about ‘Climate Resilient Cocoa Communities’
- Trained over 64,700 farmers in Good Agricultural Practices in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire; with a total of 181,257 farmers trained globally by the end of 2020
- Distributed more than 712,700 trees for on-farm and off-farm planting in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire; with a total of 975,848 trees planted as part of our CFI commitment since 2018 and 2.2 million trees planted globally by the end of 2020
- Mapped more than 22,000 farms in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire from October 2019 to September 2020, with a total of 97,630 farms mapped as part of our CFI commitment since 2018 and 156,077 farms mapped globally by the end of 2020
- Facilitated the involvement of 43,653 community members in women’s empowerment projects and activities in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire – because women are impact amplifiers, especially when it comes to climate change.
I still found that difficult to put into the context of an overall sustainability programme or relate it to the Snacking Made Right Agenda, but fortunately… there is another link. This one goes to the Cocoa Life progress report for 2020-2021. Or download it using the button below.
This report has quite a lot of good data, and of special interest are the Appendices which tabulate the goals in some detail. But what I really wanted was to see a subset of data that refers upward to the identified sustainability goals in the Snacking Made Right Agenda, but I don’t see any mapping of the numbers from one report to the other.
A link at the bottom of the original Snacking Made Right report takes you to a paper written by Manuel Kiewisch and Yuca Waarts, which discusses some of the difficulties in making a Living Income possible for all cocoa farmers. The authors posit that this would require filling a $10bn funding gap and go through the numbers. It was a thought-provoking read.
Big companies like Mondelēz International have so many strands to their operations that tying it together is no doubt not straightforward. There are places where they do an admirable job, yet in the end, it was just too much hard work, and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. I wonder who reads all these reports and what the objective of producing them is? I hope that future versions can focus on making the content comprehensible and transparent.
The Official Press Release
CHICAGO, May 13, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Mondelēz International, Inc. (Nasdaq: MDLZ) today published its 2020 Snacking Made Right Report, highlighting how the company’s differentiated approach to ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) is driving global progress against its ambitious 2025 targets and creating long-term value for the business and its stakeholders.
Mondelēz International’s approach to ESG enables the company to build a sustainable snacking company and deliver lasting change at scale by prioritizing where it can have the greatest impact, focusing on innovative and measurable solutions, and collaborating to drive sector-wide transformation. ESG is one of Mondelēz International’s long-term value drivers, is integrated throughout the business strategy and is core to its purpose – to empower people to snack right by delivering the right snack, at the right moment, made the right way.
“Snacking Made Right is part of everything we do at Mondelēz International. It drives us to take care of our people, to protect our resources, and provide moments of comfort and connection for our consumers around the world,” said Dirk Van de Put, Chairman and CEO of Mondelēz International. “Last year our purpose was more important than ever and pushed us to continue to advance our ESG commitments and expand our robust goals. We remain focused on building a sustainable snacking company, minimizing our impact on the environment while being a more diverse, equitable, inclusive and transparent organization, and we are dedicated to accelerating our efforts to lead the future of snacking.”
Mondelēz International’s continuous efforts to deliver positive change have led to significant, business-impacting results, such as enhanced sustainable sourcing programs, significant emissions and waste reductions and stronger connections with consumers and customers. In the past year, the company made meaningful progress against its sustainability and well-being goals and exceeded multiple targets, including:
- Sustainable Ingredients
- 68% of cocoa volume sourced sustainably via its signature sourcing program Cocoa Life
- 98% palm oil sourced from suppliers aligned to MDLZ’s 2020 Palm Oil Action Plan
- Environmental Impact
- 20+% reduction in CO2 from manufacturing, exceeding the target of 15%
- 30+% reduction in priority water usage, exceeding the target of 10%
- 30+% reduction in total waste from manufacturing, exceeding the target of 20%
- Packaging Innovation
- 94% of packaging designed to be recyclable
- 94% of packaging designed to be recyclable
- 16% revenue from snacks from portion control snacks
- 16% revenue from snacks from portion control snacks
- Community Support
- Established the Sustainable Futures platform to amplify long-term positive impact for people and the planet through innovative social investment and partnerships
- Delivered more than $30 million globally for COVID-19 relief efforts, including a recent $2 million donation to support India’s fight against the pandemic
Accelerating Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
In addition, Mondelēz International is stepping up its commitments to diversity, equity & inclusion and enhancing disclosure around progress in this space. In 2020, the company announced robust commitments, including spending $1 billion with women- and minority-owned businesses annually and doubling U.S. Black representation in management by 2024, while also appointing its first Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer. And the company for the first time this year publishes its EEO-1 consolidated and full filings while continuing to adopt and publish annual SASB & TCFD alignment indices as part of an ongoing commitment to expanded disclosure and transparency.
Mondelēz International’s Snacking Made Right report also reaffirms the company’s 2025 environmental goals, including:
- 100% of cocoa volume for chocolate brands sourced through MDLZ’s signature sustainable sourcing program, Cocoa Life
- 10% reduction in science-based, end-to-end C02 emissions
- 100% of packaging designed to be recyclable and labeled with recycling information
- 25% reduction in the use of virgin rigid plastic
“We have a clear and distinctive approach to sustainability, one that is aligned to our business strategy and informed by our understanding of the issues that are most material to us as a business,” said Christine Montenegro McGrath, Vice President and Chief of Global Impact and Sustainability at Mondelēz International. “Moving forward, we will continue to target our efforts, prioritizing where we can have the greatest impact, tackling root causes, measuring our progress and investing in scalable solutions, while remaining flexible and open to new ideas so we can drive lasting and meaningful change at scale.”
Mondelēz International will hold an investor [and media] call on the 2020 Snacking Made Right Report and ongoing ESG efforts on May 26th, 2021. For the full report, or to view our performance dashboard, please see the Snacking Made Right Report.
About Mondelēz International
Mondelēz International, Inc. (Nasdaq: MDLZ) empowers people to snack right in over 150 countries around the world. With 2020 net revenues of approximately $27 billion, MDLZ is leading the future of snacking with iconic global and local brands such as OREO, belVita and LU biscuits; Cadbury Dairy Milk, Milka and Toblerone chocolate; Sour Patch Kids candy and Trident gum. Mondelēz International is a proud member of the Standard and Poor’s 500, Nasdaq 100 and Dow Jones Sustainability Index. Visit www.mondelezinternational.com or follow the company on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MDLZ.
About Cocoa Life
Cocoa Life is Mondelez International’s signature sustainable sourcing program through which the company is leading a transformation to build a thriving cocoa sector. As a vital ingredient, Cocoa Life was launched in 2012 as a $400 million USD investment to create a sustainable future for cocoa by holistically tackling the complex challenges cocoa farmers and their communities face. By 2022 Cocoa Life will empowering over 200,000 farmers and reach one million community members across six cocoa-growing countries: Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Indonesia, India, the Dominican Republic and Brazil. Cocoa Life’s approach goes beyond certification, working on the ground, together with the men and women who make their living from cocoa to improve livelihoods, strengthen communities and inspire the next generation of cocoa farmers. Learn more at www.cocoalife.org.