Corporate social responsibility (CSR) isn’t new or even particularly sexy anymore. Which means it’s all too easy for organizations in 2016 to view it as just another box that needs checking on an overlong to-do list.

It’s much more important than that.

How produce companies, food technology firms and others approach CSR in the coming year can make all the difference between success and missed opportunities.

This is the year of the workplace.

We’ve written in the past about the impact millennials will have on the workplace of the future. Well, that future has officially arrived. Any company that isn’t intentionally cultivating an exceptional workplace culture and living clearly articulated core values might be in for a frustrating new year. Since half of millennials make work choices based on a company’s core values, it has never been more important to educate, engage and live those values each day. A program like One for One® from Toms, where every product purchased helps a person in need, isn’t marketing gimmickry. It’s a reason to show up for work each day.

This is the year meat becomes “even more of a garnish.”

Type “vegetable-centric cuisine” into a search engine and you’ll likely conjure headlines like Are Vegetables the New Meat: One Writer Assesses the Chef-Driven, Plant-Centric Gastronomic Boom or The Vegetable Movement’s Must-Visit Restaurants. As fresh produce increasingly becomes center of the plate, it’s more important than ever to establish CSR values that are unique to you and go beyond mere mission statements. How clearly are you articulating the good you’re doing? What plan do you have for any challenges you might encounter? What technologies should be explored to communicate your values everywhere, including at the point of sale? A strong CSR program will help answer these and other essential questions.

This is the year of the Food Safety Modernization Act.

It’s no secret that food safety often tops the list of what consumers care most about. A single incident can have a dramatic impact on the way customers and investors view an organization and its CSR commitment. With the release of the FSMA Final Rule on Produce Safety last November, you’ve no doubt already started to respond to specific mandates. From a long-term CSR viewpoint, however, it’s just as important for produce companies to set long-term objectives and benchmarks proactively. Then evaluate and update them as needed.

 

Our Alissa Kiedrowski’s interest in science and the natural world took root as a farm kid and has blossomed ever since. Add to that her fondness for storytelling and you have an experienced PR pro adept at explaining and promoting benefits of the latest breakthroughs in food science and technology.