By David Gray

Early in my career, shareholder value was the big prize for CPGs. Bowing to shareholders came with a price though. It could mean massive cost reductions, dismantling forests, beating down a supplier on margin, unhealthy work cultures, and corners cut.

A great company was a profitable company. The maxim was one of the few things I learned in business school that proved to be true in the real world.

Today, I believe the cross section of profit, social responsibility and supply chain partnership defines the 21st-century company. In our industry, this imperative has the potential for connecting us with solutions to global food supply challenges, greater innovation, more inclusive work culture, and much greater collaboration as a force for good rather than mere industry competitors.

All this leads me to an example, of which GreenSeed is a part of. Now, anyone who knows us, knows we don’t boast. Our feet are humbly planted on the ground, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. So when I say we won an award, it isn’t to collect accolades. My intention is to share a story about our organization’s goal to change the mindset of what manufacturing can be today and how the vision aligned with a mission-driven brand owned by one of the world’s largest CPGs — one as intentional about doing good as it is about making a profit, a CPG that truly walks tall as a 21st century company.

I was on my way to a meeting when I got the news: Happy Family Organics had awarded us its “Best for Baby” Award. I can’t remember the exact mood I was in (I was probably focused), but an intense peace swept over me. Everyone at GreenSeed has admiration toward this organic baby and toddler food company, a subsidiary of global food and beverage company Danone, based in Paris. Danone is ranked No. 1 worldwide in fresh dairy products and plant-based products.

Each year, Happy Family Organics (Idaho and New York City-based) awards the Best for Baby Award to one supplier who goes above and beyond in the area of social and environmental responsibility. As a former collegiate athlete, I loved competing and walking away a winner, but this award wasn’t about winning as a company or a team. The award was about our collaboration with Happy Family Organics and the impact we are making because of it.

There are so many suppliers they could have chosen from around the world. The award speaks to how Happy Family Organics regards choices supply chain partners make.

Many awards honor quality work, but this one also points to impact: GreenSeed’s efforts to address climate change, our Type A recycling program and energy efficiency initiatives. We don’t really think too hard about these things. Like brushing your teeth or always saying “thank you,” you just do it.

We often talk about how to change the way people see food. To us, that means changing the way people see the world — the fragility of our resources, mutual respect, nourishing people with naturally wholesome food, being transparent about ingredients and processes, protecting our earth, and living our values. Collaborative ecosystems where supply chain partners collectively care about social impact is like that perfect pass from center right before a shooter sinks a three-pointer. Points on the board benefits the entire team.

The 21st century company continues to reveal itself and part of that evolution is Certified B Corporations®, a status earned through “verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.”

In 2011, Happy Family Organics became a Certified B Corp and in 2017, a public benefit corporation. Danone North America achieved B Corp™ status in 2018 and Danone globally is striving for B Corp certification by 2030.

Profit, social responsibility and supply chain partnerships. As our culture shifts to greater mindfulness, we have many opportunities to not only grow our companies, but to grow as people. The world’s greatest solutions may be viewed as bite-size snacks. The Best for Baby Award from Happy Family Organics shows us that small things make a big difference and how one CPG in the food industry is a magnanimous force for good.

How do you see CPGs in the food industry making the world a better place?