To your question as to whether companies will go through with their environmental commitments even if the Trump administration will not at a federal level – I believe that they will for a couple of reasons:
– Companies may be incentivized in the short term to ensure their share price is stable or growing but they also realize that they will likely outlast most political administrations which come and go every 4 or 8 years. As a result, they have incentive to plan for the long term. Their brand equity is closely tied into the actions which consumers see them making for the long term and failure to have responsible policies with respect to environmental change will certainly harm their brand equity in the long term.
– Companies are also seeing the financial benefits of investing in long term sustainable practices as these do require some investment today but will help them achieve bottom line goals a few years out.
There are of course many reasons to think companies will not act unless they are forced, but I’m choosing to opt for the optimistic view here!
Great article! If I was in Kerry’s shoes, I would see Brexit as much of a threat as it is an opportunity. Their ability to reach new consumers in Europe by having to further develop their European operations, is certainly a potential upside, despite the costs they will have to incur in doing so. However I do see the risk of a Hard Border having negative consequences on their ability to play in the UK as fairly as rivals who are already entrenched there. There is also the consideration of the Kerry brand which while strong in Ireland is also fairly strong and trusted in the UK. This would leave me relatively optimistic that UK consumers would still turn to Kerry even if the added costs of doing business in the UK were passed on to the via increased prices… up to a certain level, of course!
Thanks for an insightful essay Ray. I’m intrigued by your question regarding how to motivate suppliers to switch to renewable energy themselves. I think ultimately it comes down to how much purchasing power companies like Apple have with these supplier and the % of revenues that they contribute to these suppliers. Apple could easily throw its weight around to force suppliers to switch to renewables. Although this might lower goodwill in the relationship, I fear that another supplier would jump at the chance to work with Apple if Apple’s current supplier refused to comply!
It is a neat business idea, however I would emphasize your point that without government support investing in these technologies before it becomes a true necessity, it risks remaining a niche pursuit of well-intentioned entrepreneurs. A more developed VC ecosystem in Egypt would surely jump at the chance to invest on this tech if it can yield return and a more efficient way to grow crops outside of the Nile floodplain.
Loved this essay! I see so much potential in 3D printing too. As the price of entry gets lower and lower, there are some other interesting avenues which 3D printing is exploring. One I’ve seen is the use of 3D printing to print exact replicas of broken bones in personal injury law suits. Convincing a jury by showing an X-ray is one thing. Being able to make them hold a 3D printed replica of the exact bones fracture suffered by the plaintiff is much more convincing. It’s a brave new world out there!
My concern with Blue Bottle’s CSR credentials under Nestle majority ownership is that they risk being diluted by the knowledge that the Nestle, the “parent company” holds itself to a lower standard in its supply chain than Blue Bottle. It is then fair to think that when consumers see that difference between the two that they might grow skeptical of whether under new ownership Blue Bottle will continue to stay try to what they have set out to do in CSR or whether Nestle will squeeze the supply chain for greater profits at the expense of local farmers.