UK’s Largest Producers Of FMCGs Are Becoming Greener And More Focussed On Net Zero

- New ESG Research Highlights That FTSE 350 Consumer Goods Producers Are More Engaged With Diversity Initiatives

The UK’s largest producers of FMCGs appear to be stepping up their efforts to cut carbon emissions, but according to a new Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)* report, it’s at a slower rate than retailers and businesses operating in the hospitality sector.

National law firm Irwin Mitchell has analysed current and the previous Annual Reports of the FTSE 350** businesses which produce consumer goods, such as Diagio, Unilever and Britvic.

The study looks at the frequency of the acronym, ‘ESG’, along with other related words such as ‘diversity’, ‘net zero’, and ‘Scope 3’ emissions.

References to ‘ESG’ increased from 1,071 to a total of 1,220 across all FMCG businesses in the FTSE 350. Furthermore, 62.5% of companies used ‘ESG’ more frequently in their most recent annual reports compared to the previous editions.

Irwin Mitchell’s ‘Beyond Words’ study reveals differences between consumer goods businesses listed on the FTSE 350 companies and those in the retail and leisure & hospitality sub-sectors.

In terms of the frequency of 'ESG' mentions by sector within the FTSE 350, FMCG producers lead the way compared to retail & hospitality, with an average of 76 mentions per report compared to 67 in the previous year.


References to Scope 3 emissions, the category of greenhouse gas emissions that are indirect emissions resulting from the activities of an organisation but occur from sources not owned or controlled by the organisation, increased by 38% compared to Retail (73%) and Hospitality & Leisure (65%).

Keith Davidson, environmental law partner at Irwin Mitchell, said:

"Businesses of all sizes must prioritise climate action and sustainability to succeed in an evolving business landscape. For some, reporting on Scope 3 emissions is now a legal requirement, not just a voluntary commitment.

“Companies are now choosing business partners based on their environmental credentials and carbon reduction actions. If you’re unable to demonstrate climate action, you may risk losing clients.”

Diversity & Inclusion

Irwin Mitchell’s report also detected variations in the mentions of diversity, equity & inclusion (DE&I). Amongst the consumer goods businesses, there is a 15% rise in DE&I mentions which compares to a small rise of 3% in the leisure & hospitality sector and retail, where DE&I mentions have decreased by 7%.

Charlotte Rees-John, partner and head of Irwin Mitchell’s consumer sector, said:

"Annual Reports are a window into the soul of an organisation. They are carefully curated documents and are a vital tool for companies to communicate their commitment to their numerous stakeholders on a range of issues, including ESG.

"Our latest study highlights the commendable efforts that the UK's largest FMCG firms are making with ESG. They also appear to be highly engaged with DE&I initiatives with an average of 63 mentions per report compared to an average of 55 across the 50 FTSE 350 firms studied.”

Irwin Mitchell offers a comprehensive range of ESG advisory services including diversity training modules, cyber security, and Net Zero readiness assessments.