Melbourne Law School - Research Publications

Permanent URI for this collection

Search Results

Now showing 1 - 4 of 4
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Integrating nutrition and obesity prevention considerations into institutional investment decisions regarding food companies: Australian investment sector perspectives
    Robinson, E ; Parker, C ; Carey, R ; Foerster, A ; Blake, MR ; Sacks, G (BMC, 2022-11-08)
    BACKGROUND: There is growing recognition that current food systems are both unhealthy and unsustainable, and are increasingly shifting toward the supply and marketing of unhealthy, ultra-processed foods and beverages. Large food companies hold substantial power within food systems and present a significant barrier to progress on addressing issues related to nutrition and obesity prevention. Institutional investors (such as pension funds) play a key role in influencing corporate governance and practices, and are increasingly incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations within investment decisions. By considering nutrition and obesity prevention, institutional investors present a potential avenue for driving increased food industry accountability for their population health impact. This study investigated views of stakeholders in the Australian investment sector on the incorporation of nutrition and obesity prevention considerations within institutional investment decision-making regarding food companies. METHODS: Fifteen in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted in 2020-21. Participants were predominantly Australian-based, and included representatives from asset management companies, superannuation funds, ESG advisory/consultancy firms, ESG research providers, and relevant advocacy groups. Interviews examined challenges and opportunities to the integration of nutrition and obesity prevention considerations within institutional investment decision-making. Interviews were analysed using deductive thematic analysis, informed by a theoretical change model. RESULTS: Several participants reported that their institution factored nutrition and obesity prevention considerations into their investment decisions; however, attention to nutrition-related issues was limited, generally perceived as 'niche', and not yet institutionalised. Key challenges and opportunities were identified at the employee, investment organisation, investment sector, government and non-government levels. These challenges and opportunities centred around experience and knowledge, quality and availability of ESG data and benchmarks, importance of investor coalitions, and demonstration of financial risks related to nutrition and obesity. CONCLUSION: There are a range of steps that could be taken to help ensure more systematic and effective consideration of issues related to nutrition and obesity prevention within institutional investment decision-making in Australia, including: (1) improved nutrition-related reporting metrics and benchmarking criteria for food companies; (2) better articulation of the financial risks that unhealthy diets and obesity pose to investors; (3) enhanced investor advocacy on unhealthy diets and obesity through investor coalitions and; (4) detailed guidance for investors on how to address unhealthy diets and obesity. Better engagement between the Australian public health community, institutional investors and government regulators is critical to drive changed investor practice in this area.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Responsible investing for food system sustainability: A review of current practice in Australia
    Parker, C ; Carey, R ; Boehm, L ; Sacks, G ; Robinson, E (Thomson Reuters (Professional), 2021)
    This study investigates what role if any responsible investment by the finance sector is playing in promoting sustainable food systems in Australia. We report the findings of a preliminary desktop review of environmental, social and governance reporting by 35 of the most prominent responsible investment funds managers in Australia. Only one responsible investment fund had a comprehensive policy in relation to food system themes and 16 did not specifically mention the environmental, social and governance issues raised by food systems at all. Some addressed labour rights and intensive animal agriculture issues in the food system, and a few mentioned the climate change, biodiversity loss and water impacts of food. We conclude that a more comprehensive and holistic approach to consideration of sustainable food systems in responsible investment is required to meet the goals set by the Paris Agreement, Sustainable Development Goals and other environmental and human rights frameworks.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    The Extent to Which Obesity and Population Nutrition Are Considered by Institutional Investors Engaged in Responsible Investment in Australia-A Review of Policies and Commitments
    Robinson, E ; Parker, C ; Carey, R ; Sacks, G (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2020-12-23)
    INTRODUCTION: Responsible investment (RI), in which environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations are incorporated into investment decision making, is a potentially powerful tool for increasing corporate accountability and improving corporate practices to address broad societal challenges. Whilst the RI sector is growing, there is limited understanding of the extent to which pressing social issues, such as obesity and unhealthy population diets, are incorporated within RI decision making. This study aimed to investigate the extent to which obesity prevention and population nutrition are considered by Australian institutional investors engaged in responsible investment. METHODS: A desk-based review was conducted of investment approaches of prominent Australian asset managers and superannuation funds identified as engaged in responsible investment. Relevant information on the incorporation of ESG issues related to obesity and population nutrition was extracted for each investor, drawing on websites, published policy documents and annual reports. Strategies were categorized as: (1) negative/exclusionary screening; (2) positive/best-in-class screening; (3) norms-based screening; (4) ESG integration; (5) sustainability-themed investing; (6) impact/community investing; and (7) corporate engagement and shareholder action. These strategies were compared across investors and by themes related to obesity and population nutrition. RESULTS: Eighteen of the 35 investors indicated that they applied investment strategies that considered issues related to obesity and population nutrition. The most commonly identified strategy was ESG integration (n = 12), followed by sustainability-themed investing (n = 6), and positive screening (n = 4). The ways in which obesity and population nutrition were considered as part of these approaches included relatively high-level general health considerations (n = 12), considerations around the healthiness of food company product portfolios (n = 10), and consideration of specific company nutrition policies and practices (n = 4). The specificity and depth to which RI strategies were disclosed varied. CONCLUSION: There is significant potential for investment decisions to contribute to efforts to address key social issues, such as obesity and unhealthy diets. Some institutional investors in Australia have recognized the potential importance of incorporating obesity- and population nutrition-related issues into decision-making processes. However, the extent to which these considerations translate into investment decisions and their impact on companies in the food sector warrant further exploration.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    How Free Is Sow Stall Free? Incremental Regulatory Reform and Industry Co-optation of Activism
    Carey, R ; Parker, C ; Scrinis, G (WILEY, 2020-07-01)
    This article critically examines how interactions between social movement activism, supermarkets, and the pork industry led to the voluntary adoption of “sow stall free” standards in Australia. We “backwards map” the regulatory space behind “sow stall free” products to show how the movement against factory farming became selectively focused on the abolition of one form of confinement for sows, rather than other forms of confinement and the conditions of the sows’ offspring, the piglets that are consumed. We argue that this facilitated an incremental shift to “sow stall free” production, allowing the concept of pig welfare to be corporatized in a way that maintains the dominant model of factory farmed pig meat production.