The need for a sustainable food system is more pronounced now than ever before. The health of the planet and our ever-increasing world population depend on it. A Nature Food study found that food systems in 2015 generated 18 billion tonnes of carbon equivalent, “representing 34 percent of total Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.” Equally important, improvement in this area will safeguard people’s health: FAO data indicates that 663 million people–8.8 percent of the global population–are undernourished, while the World Health Organization (WHO) notes that as of 2016, more than 1.9 billion people were at least overweight. To address these pressing needs, Credit Suisse Group AG and JP Morgan Chase & Co.’s Asset and Wealth Management arm announced that they are teaming up on an investment strategy emphasizing sustainable nutrition.
The strategy will be implemented through a fund that will be accessible by Credit Suisse’s wealth management clients around the world and will be launched before the end of 2021. Although the name and portfolio managers for the fund have yet to be announced, Credit Suisse’s statement on July 6 indicated that the fund would invest in public companies focusing on “the ties between nutrition, health, biodiversity, and climate, with a particular focus on nutrition’s societal and environmental aspects.” Global Chief Investment Officer for Credit Suisse, Michael Strobaek, added that the fund’s goal is to “help wealth management clients invest and make a positive contribution to addressing the double burden of malnutrition–feeding people and protecting the planet.” As such, it also supports several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) laid out by the United Nations, including zero hunger (Goal 2), good health and well-being (Goal 3), responsible consumption and production (Goal 12), life below water (Goal 14), and life on land (Goal 15).
The fund, therefore, has both a sustainability and a financial mission. Lydie Hudson, CEO of Sustainability Research and Investment Products for Credit Suisse, notes that this partnership is committed to providing “both financial and purpose-driven outcomes while building lasting portfolio value.” And Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO of JPMorgan Asset & Wealth Management, concurs that they are dedicated to “sustainable solutions for clients that provide strong financial outcomes, while also addressing the most important challenges facing our planet and society.”
Credit Suisse in particular has placed much emphasis on both sustainable investing and return-first impact investing “in line with the UN’s SDGs.” And notably, the corporation has formed partnerships similar to the one with JP Morgan in the past. For example, in September 2020, it launched the Ocean Engagement Fund in collaboration with Rockefeller Capital Management. This fund focused on SDG 14, connected investors with companies that “are proactively addressing ocean health” through a strategy emphasizing “active assertion of shareholders’ rights on behalf of the fund’s owners with the aim of protecting the health of the world’s oceans.”
At the time, Steven Bates, Head of Investment Products and Fund Selection for Credit Suisse, told Citywire Selector that the company would add likely additional sub-advisory and thematic funds going forward: “I found that when you have partnership discussions with asset managers, you can actually generate more value for clients by bringing together different experience and skill sets and I see sub-advisory as a growing pillar of our offering. It’s a trend that we’re seeing and many of our key providers want to do this kind of collaboration with us which is something I don’t think all wealth managers can say.” His mention of future themes touching on sustainable lifestyles has clearly been confirmed with the announcement of the sustainable nutrition fund. Other themes that Bates hinted at, like poverty and gender diversity, will no doubt be the focus of future funds that will be equally impactful.