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Responsibility reports respond to expectations, says Kellogg’s

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 13-Jan-2009
Last updated the 13-Jan-2009 at 18:52 GMT

More than 1,500 companies use the Global Reporting Initiative’s guidelines to evaluate their performance on sustainability, environmental impact and responsible marketing – and now Kellogg’s has released its first.

The GRI guidelines have become increasingly popular since the concept of a sustainability reporting framework was first devised in 1999, when just 20 companies submitted reports. The current system is centered on the third draft of the guidelines – known as the G3 – which was designed to make the reports fairer and more transparent.

Kellogg’s Corporate Responsibility Report focuses on four areas - marketplace, workplace, environment and community - putting the company’s progress on these issues under the microscope, while outlining plans for the future and the challenges ahead.

Kellogg’s president and CEO David Mackay said: “Now more than ever, it's important to [provide high-quality food] while minimizing environmental impacts and positively addressing global challenges. Our customers, consumers, investors and other stakeholders expect it of us – and we expect it of ourselves.”

Under the GRI system, companies are given either an A, B or C rating on a their performance, and these grades are upgraded to A+, B+ or C+ if external assurance is used in compiling the report. Kellogg’s has achieved an application level B.

Areas for examination included energy use, responsible marketing, greenhouse gas emissions and diversity in the workplace.

According to a Nielsen Global Consumer Report released last month, companies “remain at risk of a consumer backlash if they fail to address consumer demand for products that adhere to their moral code”.

Nielsen said that this consumer awareness is evident in the increasing interest in fair trade products. Consumers worldwide spent over $3.6bn on Fair Trade certified products in 2007, a 47 percent increase on the previous year, according to the International Fairtrade Labeling Organization (FLO).

Meanwhile, in the US there are around 19 percent (or 40m people) actively engaged in environmental issues and a further 19 percent who, though not politically committed to the environmental movement, are focused on natural or organic foods.