Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry is the fourth largest economic sector in India. The growing awareness among people, easier access of products and services, and changing lifestyles have been key to the growth of the sector. The industry is set to grow with more new young couples preferring to rely on quick and easy household and food solutions. Considering the fact that the industry has expertise in providing solutions for nutrition, sanitation among other problems, many of the industry players have invested their CSR funds in India in order to address these issues. In this context, let us look at the five FMCG companies that take CSR seriously in India.
HUL is committed to operate and grow its business in a socially responsible way. Their vision is to grow its business whilst reducing the environmental impact of their operations and increasing the positive social impact. The company has spent more than 500 crores on its CSR activities in the last 5 years and has always spent more than the amount mandated by the CSR law.
Hindustan Unilever Limited uses its CSR funds to work on issues that plague India’s development. It has achieved huge successes in the areas of water conservation as well as tackling health and hygiene issues at the grassroots level.
The company implements its CSR initiatives through Hindustan Unilever Foundation (HUF). The non-profit acts as a vehicle to anchor water management related community development and sustainability initiatives of Hindustan Unilever Limited. HUF operates the ‘Water for Public Good’ programme, with specific focus to empower local community institutions to govern water resources and enhance farm-based livelihoods through the adoption of judicious water management practices. Since 2010, HUF has supported grassroots interventions in 53 districts with 23 NGO partners across over 4,300 villages in India.
ITC has been focusing its CSR energies on rural development in India. The company spent Rs. 326.49 crores on CSR initiatives in 2019-20, surpassing its spending for previous years. The conglomerate has active social projects in education, environmental conservation, sustainable agriculture, healthcare, digital literacy, sports and culture.
ITC Choupal is a long-running flagship CSR programme by the company that has become the gold standard on community development in international circles. Not only has ITC Choupal impacted lakhs of farmers over the years through digital literacy and economic empowerment, but it has also been replicated by scores of other corporates for social welfare in their own communities.
In line with its commitment to put Nation First and responding to the needs arising out of the lockdown implemented to contain the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic, ITC has spearheaded a CSR initiative to enable the creation of an eco-system that would lead to significant livelihood generation for farmers and daily wage earners under the ambit of the Government’s MGNREG Scheme.
During the second wave, the company worked to mitigate the crisis by supplying oxygen cryogenic containers to oxygen concentrators and generators. To serve the national priority of easing the bottleneck of transporting medical oxygen, ITC tied up with Linde India to airfreight 24 cryogenic ISO containers of 20 tonnes each from Asian countries in order to transport medical oxygen across India. The CSR initiative comes in the wake of an acute shortage of medical oxygen, constraining the healthcare system’s ability to treat coronavirus patients.
In addition, ITC is airlifted a large number of oxygen concentrators for distribution. The group’s paperboards unit in Bhadrachalam has commenced a supply of oxygen to neighbouring areas.
Nestlé India Limited, a leading Nutrition, Health and Wellness Company has been in India for about 100 years. The company, since its inception, has projected a responsible behaviour by ensuring the welfare and upliftment of communities around which it operates. The company believes that creating better livelihood opportunities for the communities residing around its operations, is its responsibility.
Through its Corporate Social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, Nestle focuses on areas in which it can create maximum value. These areas include:
– Nutrition: India bears the double burden of malnutrition for a large part of her population. Nestle’s CSR initiatives aim at improving nutrition awareness of communities with a special focus on school children.
– Water and Sanitation: India is among the world’s most water-stressed countries. Many citizens of India do not have access to safe drinking water. The CSR initiatives of Nestle India aims to help farmers with techniques to reduce water usage in agriculture, raise awareness on water conservation and provide access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
– Rural Development: Nestle CSR has chosen to focus on rural development in order to support the sustainable development of farmers, which would allow them to grow as the company grows.
Nestle firmly believes in the purpose of ‘Enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future’. The company operates around this mantra and is mindful of the needs of the communities around it. It not only strives to be sustainable with the community but also works to make a positive difference and create maximum value for the society.
Nestle believes in creating partnerships with stakeholders including communities, academia, civil society, expert organisations and so on. Nestle India Limited spent more than the prescribed 2% in corporate social responsibility programs in the financial year 2018-19. While the prescribed CSR expenditure as per Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013 was 38.07 crore rupees, actual CSR spend during the year amounted to INR 38.31 crores.
Britannia CSR focuses the most on nutrition and healthcare in India. The company makes a difference at the community level through various interventions addressing undernutrition and malnutrition. Research and development into nutrition is a major component of Britannia corporate social responsibility. In order to undertake its CSR projects to address these causes, the company has set up a Britannia Nutrition Foundation (BNF) which is more than a decade old. It was set up with the goal of delivering every Child’s Right to Nutrition and Growth. BNF runs long term replicable programmes in various states. Community development is considered a focus area since BNF assumes responsibility for the nourishment and vitality of the whole community it works in.
When it comes to plastic in the manufacturing and supply chain, the company believes in reducing, recycling and recovering plastic. The R&D team is researching ways to reduce plastic in the offices, manufacturing process and distribution. One step was to remove plastic trays from the product portfolio. The R&D is working on creating 100% reusable packaging in line with the circular economy being embraced by international companies of repute.
Britannia CSR steps up to be of service for the people in times of crises. The COVID-19 pandemic is hands down the worst humanitarian crises the world has witnessed in the last 100 years. The Britannia corporate social responsibility team mobilised its people and resources to help those in need.
Since food is the core of the company’s business, providing essential foods was at the top of the list of activities in response to the pandemic. The Wadia Group gave out 1.35 crore meals (and meal equivalents) and 90 lakh packets of biscuits and bakery items across 19 states.
The team deployed workers in the supply chain infrastructure and joined hands with agencies to send essential food to the people whose lives were disrupted by coronavirus. Nutritious food was distributed to daily wage workers, migrant families and domestic help who had lost their livelihoods to children from low-income families and anganwadis.
At Marico Limited, the idea of social responsibility is viewed from the perspective of moral and ethical duty rather than an obligation. The company wants to ‘Make a difference’ across the spectrum. Chairman Harsh Mariwala is passionate about social welfare, philanthropy and climate change action.
Marico spent Rs. 19 crores on community welfare activities in FY 2019-20. The company has designed community sustenance initiatives to build and maintain a harmonious relationship with the local communities in and around operations while uplifting their lives in a sustainable and responsible manner. Marico’s flagship CSR programme is ‘Kalpavriksha’ directed at bettering the lives and productivity of coconut farmers. There are various key initiatives that are propagated as a part of Kalpavriksha such as increased current crop productivity, hybrid plantation, replantation, right water management and usage of technological intervention. Kalpavriksha has also launched several projects under its umbrella in different domains such as digital channel, farm care personnel, and training.
During the COVID crisis, the company spent Rs. 12 crores to support the fight against the pandemic. The company donated sanitisers worth Rs. 1 crore across various cities to frontline professionals including government organisations, police, hospitals and health staff. The company committed to raising Rs. 2 Crore in collaboration with GiveIndia. The proceeds will be invested in various hospitals to strengthen the health care system in this fight against COVID-19. For every rupee that is donated by individuals, the organisation has pledged to match it in order to achieve its target.