Alternative Proteins Framework
Supporting companies and investors on ESG disclosure
The Alternative Proteins ESG Reporting Frameworks have been developed in response to growing investor interest in alternative proteins and investors’ desire to measure and analyse ESG characteristics of alternative protein companies and business lines. Until now, such assessment and analysis have been hindered by a lack of industry-specific measurement and reporting guidelines.
The ESG frameworks co-developed by the FAIRR Initiative and the Good Food Institute (GFI) address this gap by serving as industry-specific tools public and private companies may use to report on the performance of their alternative protein businesses. Investors can use the frameworks to conduct due diligence on companies involved in alternative proteins and gain transparency into the related characteristics of such companies. The frameworks also serve as roadmaps for ESG best practices within the industry.
Framework and Technical Guide Download
The FAIRR and GFI Alternative Proteins Framework for Diversified Companies ("Diversified Framework") is designed for companies that produce and sell a variety of products including alternative proteins. This framework covers retailers, manufacturers, and animal protein producers.
The GFI and FAIRR Alternative Proteins Framework for Specialized Companies ("Specialized Framework") is designed for manufacturers and ingredient suppliers of any size whose core focus is alternative proteins.
“The FAIRR Initiative is pleased to partner with the GFI on these landmark frameworks for the alternative protein industry. As the old adage goes, you cannot manage what you cannot measure. These frameworks provide investors and companies with a common language and set of standards to measure and disclose how they are managing their ESG impacts and addressing climate goals. We expect that FAIRR’s members, representing $68trillion AUM, will welcome the frameworks as a further tool in their investment process and help facilitate comparability across protein producers as innovation increases in the market. We hope to see both large protein producers in the Coller FAIRR Protein Producer Index and smaller specialised alternative protein companies adopt it, which will benefit the market as a whole.”
– Jeremy Coller, Chair, FAIRR Initiative
• Plant-based protein products made by conventional fermentation (e.g., tofu or tempeh)
• Plant-based whole food proteins and fats such as legumes or nuts (included in the Diversified Framework only).
In most cases, companies do not need to report to the Framework if they do not have any commercially available products. However, there may be some exceptions, such as companies that are developing novel products (e.g. cultivated meat) that have not yet gained regulatory approval in their region of operation. These companies may have scaled their manufacturing process to a pilot or demo stage to prepare for production upon receiving regulatory approval, and therefore would fit the criteria for reporting to the framework, per the below. Guidance for reporting to the Framework is based upon the manufacturing stage of a company:
• A lab stage company is defined as an early-stage company whose products or ingredients/inputs are still in the research and development phase and has no commercially available product. These companies are not asked to report to the framework, though companies may wish to do so. We would encourage these companies to use the Framework to guide the development of their ESG policies, procedures, and reporting.
• A pilot or demo stage company is defined as an organisation that has developed a product or ingredient/input that is being publicly tested, has recently been released to the market, or is being distributed as a B2B ingredient/input. Companies at this stage are asked to complete questions marked ‘All stages’ within 2 years of the publication of this framework, which would be by September 2024, or within two years of graduating to the pilot or demo manufacturing stage.
• A commercial stage company is defined as a company that is more established in its industry, with a known product and customer or B2B following, and/or is likely profitable with sustainable growth. Commercial stage companies are asked to complete questions marked ‘All stages’ and ‘Commercial’ within 2 years of the publication of this framework (September 2024) or within two years of graduating to the commercial manufacturing stage.
For further details see the “Manufacturing stages and definitions” section of the Specialized Framework technical guide.
However, in 2023, FAIRR may reach out to diversified companies to ask them to pilot the Diversified Framework and collect company disclosures and feedback on the framework. Going forward, FAIRR may use the tool as part of its engagement methodology, and benchmark companies, or as part of its Consumer Protein Index.
Moreover, in 2023 or beyond, GFI may solicit companies to share framework responses to aid benchmarking, provide examples of strong disclosures, or for other purposes.
Both organizations encourage reporting companies to publish select responses on their own websites or integrate them into their annual reporting. Companies are encouraged to seek legal advice if they have questions or concerns about disclosing information through this framework. In particular, companies should note that sharing certain competitively sensitive information publicly or with market competitors may violate state or federal antitrust laws. Generally, information may be shared confidentially with investors.
These frameworks are the first iteration, and we aim to develop them further in the future. If you have any feedback on how we can improve the frameworks and technical guides please share your comments using the link below.
We would also welcome any information you can share regarding how you are using the frameworks. Your comments will be used to make improvements, inform framework updates for future releases, and create case studies that will help enable us to encourage further adoption.
Established by the Jeremy Coller Foundation, the FAIRR Initiative is a collaborative investor network that raises awareness of the environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities brought about by intensive livestock production. With offices based in London, FAIRR provides cutting-edge research, best practice tools and collaborative engagement opportunities to help investors integrate these risks and opportunities into their investment decision-making and active stewardship processes.
Current meat production is unsustainable and The Good Food Institute (GFI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit working internationally to make alternative proteins delicious, affordable, and accessible. GFI advances open-access research, mobilizes resources and talent, and empowers partners across the food system to create a sustainable, secure, and just protein supply. Further information is available.