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Our approach

At ABF, we are invested in our future. We are committed to maximising value for our stakeholders, including our employees, customers, suppliers and shareholders, through the business we do. We have a clear sense of our social purpose. We work hard to provide safe, nutritious and affordable food, and to provide good quality, affordable clothing to hundreds of millions of customers worldwide. We strive to be a good neighbour and contribute positively to the communities in which we operate.

Acting responsibly towards people and the planet is not a new concept for us, indeed many of our environmental and social initiatives started out long before the terms ‘sustainability’ or ‘ESG’ became mainstream.

Our food and ingredients businesses are highly efficient at maximising the value that can be derived from the crops and raw materials they use. This makes good commercial sense and it is also aligned with best practice environmental principles, prioritising waste prevention and reuse wherever possible. Our retail business has an industry-leading sustainability strategy based upon Primark’s well-established Ethical Trade and Environmental Sustainability programme, developed over a decade to ensure that those working in Primark’s supply chain are treated properly and that our products are made with respect for the environment.

At ABF, maximising value starts with our belief that the actions we take today will define the world we encounter tomorrow. We understand the value of long-term planning, but we also place great value in taking action and doing the right thing here and now.

The belief that companies do well when they act well is deeply ingrained in all of us, from the Board and the leadership team, across all our businesses and colleagues. Our rigorous commitment to responsible business practices, combined with entrepreneurial flair and targeted capital investments, are how we operate at ABF. In doing the right thing we will achieve our social and environmental aims and manage future uncertainties by focusing on four things: the capability of our people; our collective agility to adapt quickly to changing circumstances; our willingness to invest in innovative concepts; and sharing best practice across our Group.

Investment in our people is fundamentally important, including their safety, health and wellbeing, with an increasing focus on mental and financial health as well as physical safety. We are agile, which means we are well positioned to tailor programmes to employees’ needs and introduce initiatives such as those to support our colleagues facing challenges due to the current cost-of-living crisis. We know the value of diversity, equity and inclusion. We want to build a working culture in which everyone who works with us can thrive, professionally and personally.

Our latest Responsibility Report details the pragmatic, collaborative and increasingly systematic approach our businesses take to address the environmental and social risks and opportunities that are most material, but certainly not unique, to ABF. We increasingly focus on human rights due diligence and social inequality. We respect the vital importance of biodiversity and we work towards eliminating greenhouse gas emissions.

It is my belief that ABF absolutely can reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In fact, I want us to get there much sooner and I think that in light of the pace and breadth of the emissions reduction programmes we have across our Group today, we have every reason for our confidence.

All these risks are profound and must be addressed, however they are not intractable. Across ABF our businesses are responding to them with vigour and originality; using innovative concepts and best practice, so that we make a difference right now. We are fully invested in our future.

Our case studies show how our businesses are dealing with the impact of extreme weather events linked to climate change.

At ABF, our businesses will continue to look for innovative ways to achieve more, but they also understand the value of persistence, sticking to well-proven methods because big changes often come in small increments. Hard work and patience do pay off. This is as true of the future as of the past, which is why many of our businesses’ most significant environmental and social programmes, which can involve substantial capital investment, are set to run over five to ten years. Our Responsibility Report includes a number of such programmes and illustrates our approach across the value chain.

George Weston,
Chief Executive
Associated British Foods plc

Q&A on ESG

Our Director of Legal Services and Company Secretary, Paul Lister, who oversees all our environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives, and our Group Director of Corporate Responsibility, Katharine Stewart, answer some of the ESG questions our stakeholders have asked most regularly.


Responsibility Governance

All our businesses operate within a clear corporate responsibility governance framework.

Materiality

Assessing and prioritising the most material environmental and social risks and opportunities starts with our businesses. 

Stakeholder engagement

How we understand different groups’ priorities and concerns to help us set the right priorities.


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