Approximately 805 million people around the world are starving. Extreme poverty, rapid population growth, climate change and shrinking resources are a few of the crucial factors threatening global food security.

It is estimated that by 2050 the world’s population will have grown to more than nine billion people, meaning food production will have to increase by as much as 70% in order to feed the world.

Big businesses recognize the importance of fighting global hunger. As a result, a few major companies are leading efforts to improve global food security.


Amway, a leader in the nutrition and vitamin market, launched the Nutrilite Power of 5 Campaign to raise awareness of childhood malnutrition.

The company developed Nutrilite Little Bits, a micronutrient supplement that provides impoverished children with the key nutrients and vitamins often missing from their diets.

The Nutrilite Power of 5 Campaign has provided Nutrilite Little Bits to thousands of children in 11 countries since its inception in 2014.

Amway has committed to providing five million Nutrilite Little Bits by the end of 2016. This act has the potential to benefit more than 14,000 malnourished children.

General Mills

Food giant, General Mills, pledged to work closely with smallholder farmers in developing economies to sustainably source 100% of their top ten priority ingredients by 2020.

“We know that when farmers have the knowledge and resources for their farms and families to thrive, the benefits accrue well beyond the individual and extend to the community and societal levels,” said General Mills Foundation Associate Director Nicola Dixon.

General Mills wants its farmers to produce enough to feed their families and generate an income while raising the living standards in their communities. Millions have already benefited from the company’s work.


Cargill, one of the world’s largest food and agriculture businesses, committed to providing more than $13 million in grants through a broad set of programs focused on food security, sustainability and nutrition.

The grants will be focused on promoting sustainable agricultural practices, improving market access and productivity for farmers, supporting childhood nutrition and education and advancing healthy diets and preventing diet-related health issues in low-income communities.

“The private sector can be a catalyst for lasting change by jumpstarting innovation and economic development,” said Ruth Rawling, Cargill’s vice president of corporate affairs.

One of the grant recipients is CARE USA, which has partnered with Cargill for over 25 years to combat poverty and long-term hunger among some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.

Cargill’s grants are expected to benefit more than one million people in 15 countries.

Global food security is one of the most dire issues facing the world. One’s ability to feed themselves is directly correlated to their productivity and ability to earn a living.

There is great potential to vastly reduce poverty, increase incomes for the world’s poor and expand the world’s consumer base as big businesses further their investment in global food security.

Sara Christensen

Photo: Flickr

As a modern business trend, it is hard to know whether “corporate social responsibility”—or CSR—will be a lasting ethos that transforms the way companies conduct business or a passing fad designed to make big corporations more likable. CSR may be thought of as a corporation’s conscience—a set of internal policies that govern how the company interacts with and relates to its community, its people and its environment.

There is no question that executives and business leaders have adopted the lexicon of corporate social responsibility. As The Economist notes, “It would be a challenge to find a recent annual report of any big international company that justifies the firm’s existence merely in terms of profit, rather than service to the community.” In the late 1990s, a group of CEOs went as far as launching a global organization—the World Business Council for Sustainable Development—for the purpose of discussing strategic issues related to sustainable business practices. The rhetoric is clear: corporations care.

The question is what kinds of corporate actions have resulted from the emerging ethos of CSR. One area where companies have been keen on improvement is energy reduction. For example, General Mills instituted an energy audit program, and in 2012 reduced its energy consumption by 7 percent. It’s a win-win for General Mills—the company saves money and highlights its commitment to the environment. Other corporations like Solo Cup Company are engaging their employees to help with community cleanup events, trash collection programs or recycling drives at Solo facilities.

But some critics question the motives of companies that institute policies and public relations campaigns related to corporate social responsibility. One argument is that CSR is simply a marketing scheme developed to attract consumers to certain brands.

Many dissenters point out that markets are not concerned with ethics or social responsibility. In an article for the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Deborah Doane explains, “CSR can hardly be expected to deliver when the short-term demands of the stock market provide disincentives for doing so.”

While the companies and critics each present compelling arguments for or against CSR, it may be that corporate social responsibility is just a negotiated balance between companies and the communities in which they operate. It is how the company achieves or bolsters legitimacy with its potential consumers. The business benefit, of course, is that the company will profit in some way from its investment in CSR. After all, conventional wisdom says the primary objective of any corporation is not principle, but profit.

– Daniel Bonasso
Sources: Standford Social Innovation Review, The Economist, Corporate Watch
Photo: Career Realism


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