What is new about this report?
There is relatively little practical guidance available to help companies respond to wider social responsibilities. Tools that do exist tend to apply to any company and can therefore be somewhat generic; there is almost no guidance that spells out the wider social responsibilities faced by companies in specific industry sectors. The Forum has produced this report to explore how real social issues affect companies in this sector. It gives an insight into the complexity of these issues and provides resources for further information, as well as highlighting practical examples of company responses.

Some conclusions from the report
. One future driver of CSR in this sector arises from the trend towards the outsourcing of manufacturing. There are two main consequences of this trend: lay-offs and reputational issues. Lay-offs often follow a restructuring programme; how companies handle enforced redundancies is a crucial part of their social responsibility. Brand
reputations can be at risk if subcontractors do not adhere to the same international standards (particularly in terms of labour rights and product safety) as the manufacturers.
. Leading companies have made some inroads in the areas of ethical trade and sustainable agriculture individually, but could do more through collaboration between companies and organisations from other sectors – especially given that companies in the sector already collaborate in certain areas such as the development of marketing
codes and the sharing of distribution channels. Although this is a long-term process, it could benefit the companies through a more stable, long-term supply of commodities, and impact rural producers, who would have improved working conditions.
. A current major focus of work for leading companies in this area is working with experts from external stakeholder groups to develop metrics to measure and demonstrate progress in the area of CSR – particularly in the case of sustainable agriculture.

The report covers the following sections:

* Sector overview – what are the characteristics of the sector?
* Stakeholder map – who is driving CSR in the food and beverage sector?
* The value chain – what is the context of CSR across the value chain ?
* The challenges – what are the main CSR challenges facing food and beverage
* Management framework – how can these companies manage the process of CSR
* The response – what practical methods are companies using to respond to these
* Conclusions – what are the CSR trends in this sector?