The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


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Home / case studies / Case study: How Campbell is promoting food safety and quality

Case study: How Campbell is promoting food safety and quality

As a leading global soup company, Campbell’s vision is to provide the market with real food that matters for life’s moments. Nevertheless, Campbell acknowledges that not paying the necessary attention to food safety and quality has serious financial and reputational consequences, that could be harmful for the company.

This case study is based on the 2016 Corporate Responsibility Report by Campbell published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate that CSR/ sustainability reporting done responsibly is achieved by identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment and stakeholders and by measuring, managing and changing. 

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Food safety and quality is among the most important concerns of the food industry. Therefore, Campbell dedicates every resource to make sure that its customers are adequately protected from foodborne illnesses, allergens or any other health and safety concern. In order to promote food safety and quality Campbell takes action to:

  • closely monitor product safety throughout the entire value chain
  • manage quality
  • invest in supplier engagement
  • implement the Food Safety Modernization Act
  • minimize the risk of allergens ending up in food products by mistake

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2016 Corporate Responsibility Report Campbell identified a range of material issues, such as transparency, responsible sourcing, health, nutrition and wellness, sustainable agriculture, community involvement and food access, business ethics, occupational health and safety, diversity and inclusion. Among these, promoting food safety and quality stands out as a key material issue for Campbell.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The organization should identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups Campbell engages with:   

Stakeholder Group      Method of engagement
Advocacy Groups & NGOs ·         Organizational Memberships

·         Direct Engagement

·         Strategic Issue Partnerships

·         Professional Conferences

·         Roundtable Events

·         Social Media

Communities ·         Direct, On-the-Ground Relationships

·         Corporate & Employee Giving

·         Networking Events

·         Surveys

·         Signature Partnerships

·         Regional Priority Plans

·         Employee Volunteers

·         Newsletter

Consumers ·         Dedicated 24 Hour Toll-Free Hotline

·         Consumer Insights

·         Branded Websites

·         Campbell’s Kitchen Website

·         Campbell’s Nutrition Website

·         What’s in My Food Website

·         Social Media

Customers ·         Dedicated Customer Teams

·         Top-to-Top Customer Meetings

·         Customer Surveys

·         Industry Trade Groups (such as FMI, GMA and Consumer Goods Forum)

Employees ·         Quarterly Employee Forums

·         Town Hall Meetings

·         Business Resource Affinity Networks

·         Interactive Corporate Intranet Sites

·         Anonymous Hotline

Investors ·         Meetings with Institutional and Socially Responsible Investors

·         Direct Engagement on Specific Topics of Interest

·         Ratings/Rankings & Indices

·         Annual Report

·         Annual Shareholder Meetings

·         Investor Calls and Forums

Suppliers ·         Collaborative Partnerships

·         Supplier Code of Conduct

·         Supplier Scorecards

·         Face-to-Face Meetings

·         Supplier Diversity Initiatives

·         Surveys

·         Assessments & Audits

Regulators and Policymakers ·         Campbell Political Action Committee

·         Direct Engagement on Issues Important to Campbell

·         Advocacy

·         Significant Monitoring and Communication of Regulatory Activities

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify material issues, Campbell conducted a survey among employees, NGOs, suppliers, community partners, investors, customers (retailers), government or regulatory agencies, consumers and trade organizations, collecting feedback from over 1,250 participants. In addition, more than 70 post-survey interviews were carried out, with both employees and external stakeholders, to prioritize and look further into Campbell’s material issues.

What actions were taken by Campbell to promote food safety and quality?

In its 2016 Corporate Responsibility Report Campbell reports that it took the following actions to promote food safety and quality:

  • Closely monitoring product safety throughout the entire value chain
  • [tweetthis]Campbell monitors product safety throughout its whole value chain[/tweetthis], from the moment ingredients are harvested on the farm, to the moment finished products leave their distribution centres.
  • Managing quality
  • Campbell is focused on continuous improvement, to ensure its quality control systems are kept up to date with the latest technology. At the same time, it meets the industry’s top standards for quality assurance. Moreover, Campbell pays attention to regulatory compliance, and to quality standards and policies which are industry-leading and global in approach. Campbell ensures that these standards are met both in its own premises and by its contract manufacturers and suppliers abroad. In addition, in 2015, Campbell monitored the latest food safety trends and research, shared best practices with its network as a leading member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and maintained its commitment to Global Food Safety Initiative certification for all its manufacturing facilities.
  • Investing in supplier engagement
  • Campbell invests in supplier engagement in order to ensure ingredient safety by:
    • Collaborating directly with its suppliers, packaging companies and co-manufacturers. In order to reinforce these relationships, Campbell works with its partners to help align their operations with new rules and regulations in food safety and quality standards.
    • Updating, on a regular basis, its Supply Base Requirements and Expectations Manual, which outlines Campbell’s firm safety and quality requirements.
    • Carrying out occasional comprehensive audits on its suppliers to make sure the company’s high standards are being followed.
    • Applying control mechanisms such as the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and prerequisite programmes, at Campbell’s and suppliers’ facilities.
  • Implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act
  • According to the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) foreign suppliers have to ensure that their food safety systems and programmes comply with U.S. standards before their products are permitted to enter the USA.  Thus, to review and monitor sourced product ingredients and track suppliers’ performance and compliance, Campbell applies a global mapping system on its supply base.
  • Minimizing the risk of allergens ending up in food products by mistake
  • Campbell is striving to protect consumers who have allergies to particular ingredients by minimizing the risk of allergens ending up in food products by mistake. Food allergens at Campbell premises are controlled by implementing strict internal controls, which safeguard  the company’s consumers against any cross-contact with unintended ingredients. Campbell’s data system is designed to ensure the accuracy of label ingredient statements and allergen information. Moreover, the company’s advanced coding and scanning technology validates individual packages for labelling accuracy, allergen regulation and product traceability. Examples of food allergens monitored by Campbell include fin fish, peanuts, wheat, shellfish, tree nuts, soy protein, eggs, sesame seeds, dairy protein and gluten.

Which GRI indicators/Standards have been addressed?

The GRI indicator addressed in this case is: G4-PR1: Percentage of significant product and service categories for which health and safety impacts are assessed for improvement and the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 416-1 Assessment of the health and safety impacts of product and service categories


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1) This case study is based on published information by Campbell, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:




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