Pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., animal health company Zoetis Inc. and sustainable indoor agriculture company AeroFarms are among four dozen companies recognized by Fortune magazine for enacting business strategies that have had a positive impact in the world.
Released Oct 10, the publication’s 2022 Change the World List highlights 54 companies for making strides over the past year to address social or environmental issues through profit-making operations. Merck, which is headquartered in Kenilworth, Parsippany-based Zoetis and Newark’s AeroFarms are the only New Jersey companies included on the compilation.
Merck was selected for its work expanding global access to the company’s human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines.
As part of its Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) strategy, Merck took several steps to increase access to HPV vaccines, including:
- Collaborating with UNICEF on a long-term agreement to provide 91.5 million doses for use in Gavi-supported countries from 2021-2025
- Investing more than $2 billion in capital over the last five years to boost HPV vaccine supply to expand global access
Robert Davis, Merck’s chief executive officer and president, said it was an honor to be recognized.
“This is the third time over the last five years that our company has been on this list and we are very proud of being acknowledge for the positive impact we continue to make on global health,” Davis remarked. “Our commitment and efforts in this space reflect Merck’s distinguished legacy of operating responsibly and creating value for society. Importantly, we know that even more needs to be done to advance health equity and our team is inspired and passionate about finding new ways to bring our medicines and vaccines to people and communities everywhere.”
Zoetis’ inclusion is based on the company’s African Livestock Productivity and Health Advancement (ALPHA) initiative, a five-year-old effort aimed at establishing and developing sustainable veterinary care in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Jeannette Ferran Astorga, executive vice president, Corporate Affairs, Communications and Sustainability at Zoetis, described the recognition as a “proud moment” for the company and said it “affirms the impact we can have by living our purpose to nurture the world and humankind by advancing animal care.”
In Sub-Saharan Africa, which has one of the highest rates of food insecurity and some of the highest human population growth rates in the world, smallholder farming is one of the main sources of livelihood. With more than 20% of animal production losses linked to diseases globally, access to quality animal health care is vital to protecting not only farmers’ livelihoods, but also the region’s limited natural resources.
Through its ALPHA initiative, Zoetis has:
- Made 91 innovative veterinary products commercially available, up from 2017 when only four products could be found in the region
- Treated 128 million animals (124 million chickens and 4 million cows)
- Established 16 diagnostic laboratories that are fully operational with trained personnel
- Trained more than 26,000 farmers, veterinarians and para-veterinarians on veterinary care
As part of that objective, the company opened two new indoor vertical farms over the past year – an aeroponic smart farm in Danville, Va., and a research and development farm in Abu Dhabi.
David Rosenberg, AeroFarms chief executive officer and co-founder, said, “This Change The World honor reinforces AeroFarms’ award-winning legacy to build and scale our business as a force for good. We have been transforming agriculture with people and planet in mind, using the latest breakthroughs in indoor vertical farming, artificial intelligence and plant biology to fix our broken food system and this award is a testament to our team’s commitment to our broader mission.”
AeroFarms’ leafy greens can be found at major retailers such as Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods Market, The Fresh Market and Walmart.
Putting it together
For this year’s list – which includes 31 companies from North America, 12 from Europe, eight from Asia, two from Africa and one from South America – Fortune used the following criteria:
- Measurable social impact: The reach, nature and durability of the company’s impact on one or more specific societal problems.
- Business results: The benefit the socially impactful work brings to the company. Profitability and contribution to shareholder value outweigh benefits to the company’s reputation.
- Degree of innovation: How innovative the company’s effort is relative to that of others in its industry and whether other companies have followed its example or partnered with it.
While the Fortune said its list is not ranked, the first 10 entries are:
- Alibaba, JD.com, & Meituan
- AIA Group
- Shubham Housing Development Finance
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 11:12 a.m. ET Oct. 12 to include AeroFarms, which was not noted on Fortune’s map of honorees.