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Bimbo details ‘ambitious’ new sustainability goals

MEXICO CITY — Grupo Bimbo SAB de CV has launched a new sustainability strategy that the company’s chief executive officer said positions the company to do more for people and the planet by setting “transparent, far-reaching, ambitious goals.” The new strategy, which has been developed based on a materiality assessment, is defined through three pillars with eight initiatives.

“This strategy is a result of constantly looking for ways to expand it from tiers of how business can be done and how the interaction with our stakeholders can improve to nourish the wellness of people and the planet,” said Daniel J. Servitje, CEO of Grupo Bimbo, in a May 18 conference call launching the strategy. “We know this won’t be a simple journey, but we have a plan to get there. We are bakers in the grain-based food industry with a very close relationship with our consumers and want to be in their homes, on their tables every day. We know that by providing high-quality products with high nutritional value, we can improve the lives of everyone we reach and that our sustainability strategies are meaningful for all stakeholders, our associates, our investors and the communities we serve. Over the last decades, our sustainability strategy encompassed many different areas like health and well-being, the planet, our relationship with the communities around us and what we do for our associates.”

Indeed, Grupo Bimbo’s sustainability strategy has featured many programs and projects over the past 50+ years. In the 1960s, the company started its social programs and promoted healthy lifestyles with Futbolito Bimbo. More than 30 years later, in 1991, the company developed its first environmental policy. That was followed by the decision to measure nutritional guidance in 2008 and by the launch of biodegradable packaging in 2009. In 2012, Grupo Bimbo launched its first renewable energy effort with the Piedra Larga wind farm in Mexico, and in 2013 Grupo Bimbo became the first company in Mexico to build an electric vehicle through its subsidiary, Moldex.

More recently, the company over the past five years has been recognized as one of the most ethical companies by the Ethisphere Institute. Highlights in recent years include Grupo Bimbo’s recognition as the first company in Mexico to receive clean energy certificates and the company’s pledge in 2021 to reach net zero carbon emissions. The company also has committed to use 100% renewable energy by 2025.

“However, we know that as the world evolves, so the needs of our stakeholders and the positive impact we can have on them,” Mr. Servitje said. “Because of this, we decided to undertake a more ambitious strategy with a goal of having a business model that is completely sustainable by design. This new sustainability strategy builds on what we have been doing and enables us to be more focused and make a bigger contribution to the United States’ and United Nations’ sustainable development goals.

“We are in a decade of action, and this means we need to increase our speed to reach our sustainability goals. In many areas, such as climate change and water management, (if) the world does not act more boldly, it may be too late. We want to be a part of this acceleration, and that is how I can sum up everything that nourishing a better world is. It means nourishing the well-being of people and nature at the same time because we can only make things better if we do both. It is about the planet and about the people that live on it.”

As part of its new strategy, Grupo Bimbo has identified three pillars: Baked for You, Baked for Nature and Baked for Life.

The Baked for You pillar is focused on enabling planetary diets with nutritional diversity, and within the pillar Grupo Bimbo has set three goals it hopes to achieve by 2030. They are:

  1. 100% of baked products and snacks with simple and natural recipes with nutrition in every bite and ensuring accessible options available at every point of sale.
  2. 100% of baked products and snacks can be part of a healthy plant-based diet by including a wide array of whole grains and other healthy plant-based ingredients in its recipes.
  3. 100% of products offer nutritional and sustainable transparency in their packaging and online. Healthy diets are actively promoted through clear educational campaigns.

“If we have to sum up this pillar in one single number, it is about 100%,” Rafael Pamias, executive vice president and chief sustainability officer, said during the conference call. “Because by 2030, 100% of our recipes will be natural and simple. By 2030, in 100% of our organizations, 100% of our portfolios, we will be able to deliver a substantial offer of healthy plant-based products. And before 2030, 100% of our labels will provide information enough to empower our consumers to make better choices.”

Mr. Pamias said Grupo Bimbo’s progress on the Baked for You pillar is “quite promising,” with about 90% of its portfolio complying with internal and external consensus on maximum levels for nutrients to be limited.

The Baked for Nature pillar intends to protect and regenerate natural systems, Grupo Bimbo said. The company noted that some of its most ambitious environmental goals are within the Baked for Nature pillar. As part of its updated strategy, Grupo Bimbo has committed to the following three goals by 2050:

  1. Become a net zero carbon emissions company, following Science Based Targets initiative’s framework.
  2. 100% of key ingredients will be obtained through crop cultivation using regenerative agriculture practices.
  3. By 2030, ensure that 100% of its packaging supports a circular economy. Also, achieve a reduction of 20% on water consumption and 50% less food waste in its operations.

“If we said that the first pillar was about 100%, this pillar, which is about protecting and regenerating our natural system, it is about 0,” Mr. Pamias said. “Because by 2050, we are committed to become a net zero carbon emissions company with specific and public targets for 2030 and 2040. This also means 0% of our key ingredients by 2050 will come from non-sustainable agricultural practices, therefore, full conversion in 2050 to regenerative agriculture. And last but not least, 0 is the waste that we’re planning to have on our packaging, water and food in 2050.”

He said progress on the second pillar also is promising, with the company expecting that by the end of 2022 85% of the energy will be coming from renewable sources, 90% of packaging will be recyclable and 90% of waste will be recyclable. By 2025, 100% of Grupo Bimbo’s energy will come from renewable energies, and 100% of packaging will be fully recyclable, he added.

The third and final pillar is Baked for Life, which the company said is about improving the lives of everyone Grupo Bimbo reaches and empowering the communities in which it’s a part of. Grupo Bimbo has identified two goals for 2030 within the Baked for Life pillar. They are:

  1. Strengthen the implementation of Good Neighbor projects in each work center. Promote a volunteering culture fostering among associates the motivation to become an agent of change.
  2. Strengthen dedicated programs to the value chain, especially those focused on small farmers and customers.

“Baked for Life is about (making) sure progress turns into prosperity for all around us,” Mr. Pamias said.

Grupo Bimbo said it will keep industry updated on its progress as part of its annual report.