In Session
expo west 2018 insession finance

Beyond the supply chain: Looking for sustainability in financing, too

Major brands with leading sustainability portfolios talk with sustainability-minded investors about the importance of capital sources during this session recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2018.

"Most people don't even know what their holdings are in their 401Ks. You could be financing deforestation in Myanmar at night while you're sleeping. A lot of people are saying, where does your money sleep at night, and what is it doing?"

—David Haines, Greenmont Capital

Part 1: Who's taking risks and why

Highlights:

  • The underlying financial system doesn't necessarily reward the kind of risk and fearlessness that's driving change in the industry. The bigger these entities get, the less bold they get, the more risk-averse they become. 
  • Ethical businesses that look at outside influences, and beyond short-term profitability, were able to navigate the economic downturn a decade ago. They'd created relationships with consumers, with the supply chain. Greenmont Capital is the organic money coming in, as opposed to the traditional capital. 
  • Greenmont is not taking more risks than others, it's leaders believe it just understands the space more. And it's proven itself—with Greenmont outperforming the market by traditional standards and its own. 

 

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Part 2: Educating Wall Street 

Highlights:

  • Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, has said that every time he's made a decision that is best for the environment, he's made money. 
  • To be as mindful with the money and the capital that you're sourcing as you are with your supply chain and with your ingredients is going to be key to making this shift in the financial markets that has to happen. 

 

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Part 3: Educating Corporations

Highlights:

  • Eight percent of consumers are now saying they expect corporations, as opposed to government, to make changes within the industry. Consumers are holding corporations responsible. 
  • We've got really uneducated capital in the food industry. 
  • When the fair trade movement first hit the chocolate industry, there were only a few fair trade brands creating consumer-facing products focused on awareness and change. Now you're seeing the largest chocolate houses in the world talk about eradicating some of the very behaviors that fair trade set out to shine a light on 15 years ago. It took 15 years, but it’s a great example of consumers using the food industry to effect change.

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Part 4: Be patient, but act fast 

Highlights:

  • You have to do these things environmentally and socially that are responsible at the expense of profitability, as long as you’re willing to take the long view.
  • What's not happening slowly is climate change. Rodale just told us regenerative agricultural practices can be the No. 1 thing to do to fight climate change. 

This session—Regenerative Finance: How to Invest in the Future of Food—was recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2018.

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