Have you noticed a change in how companies respond to engagement in the past few years?
Food and beverage manufacturers are paying greater attention to the topic of nutrition, for a number of reasons.
Minimising the impact of their activities on society and the environment has become a business imperative.
Public interest in health and sustainability has become so widespread it is something companies can no longer ignore. Millenials and Gen-z consumers are more health conscious and increasingly want to align their purchases with their values. They want healthy, nutritious food that is responsibly produced, and are willing to pay a price premium for this.
It has also become crucial to investors that the companies they invest in meet certain standards. More and more investment managers include ESG factors in their investment process. Regulation such as the EU’s SFDR mandating greater transparency on the sustainability profiles of investment funds will only accelerate that trend.
What has been the effect of COVID-19?
COVID-19 has shed light on the link between poor diets and vulnerability to infectious disease. In particular, studies have shown a strong link between obesity and COVID-19. Governments like the UK have started to implement policies targeting malnutrition as a response to the pandemic. This heightened awareness of the importance of healthy diets is fueling the growth of the functional foods markets (e.g. probiotics, supplements) and that of healthy alternatives such as plant-based foods.
Another effect of the pandemic has been to highlight the threat to food security caused by disruptions in complex global supply chains. In response, we are seeing the food industry investing heavily in a wide range of high-tech solutions, many of which are geared to strengthening supply chains, raising production standards and reducing food waste.
To help us better understand these trends, our portfolio managers draw on the support of a dedicated advisory board, whose members are experts from different areas of the food industry. Among our them is a medical practitioner whose research activities focus on the link between non-communicable diseases such obesity and diabetes and nutrition. Another is a food scientist, formerly the head of innovation, technology and R&D at Nestlé. They bring a different, science-based perspective and help ensure that our investment theme remains relevant.
Written by Mayssa Al Midani, Senior Investment Manager
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About Mayssa Al Midani Mayssa
Al Midani joined Pictet Asset Management in September 2018 as an Investment Manager in the Thematic Equities team. She was previously a Portfolio Manager within the Pictet Investment Office focused on special situations across the capital structure and private equity co-investments in the consumer sector. Before joining PIO, she was an Equity Buy-Side Analyst at Pictet Wealth Management specialising in global consumer equities. She began her career in 2010 as an Analyst at Credit Suisse Investment Bank. Mayssa holds a MSc in Accounting & Finance from the London School of Economics (LSE) and a Certified International Investment Analyst (CIIA) diploma from the Swiss Financial Analysts Association.
This is an except from IFA Magazine’s comprehensive 2021/22 ESG report. To access the full report, please click here.