Driving Increased Transparency of Sustainability Attributes in Commodity Supply Chains

Project: Research project

Project Details


Driving Increased Transparency of Sustainability Attributes in Commodity Supply Chains Driving Increased Transparency of Sustainability Attributes in Commodity Supply Chains TSC will lead a project to convene key companies including food manufacturers and retailers, NGOs, commodity brokers and exchanges, commodity producers, and academics to determine a collective solution to driving transparency into sustainability attributes of commodities. This project will develop a set of commodity purchasing guidelines for animal proteins and plant-based manufactured food and drink in the U.S. that all companies can use with their commodity suppliers to request disclosure of crop sustainability attributes beyond mass-balance estimates. This project will require advanced case studies to understand 1) how commodities are purchased by companies currently; 2) what sustainability data, if any, is available; 3) what data commodity brokers are capable of transmitting to customers currently and what infrastructure is needed to improve data flow; 4) what technology solutions are currently available to transmit farm data to a commodity broker and ultimately to food manufacturing companies and retailers; 5) what incentives are present in the market or could be present to drive demand for sustainable commodity production (e.g. longer contracts with growers). From these case studies we can glean important knowledge to formulate an actionable purchasing policy for commodities. With this lift all ships approach the efforts will drive improved sustainability performance into the existing commodity markets while not forcing unwanted, unnecessary differentiation of commodities. This project will 1) create collective demand for sustainable commodities to rapidly transmit a demand signal to commodity companies. Once buying guidelines are utilized by food companies it will send a signal to commodity brokerage companies and exchanges that there is collective demand for sustainability data and improved transparency from their largest customers. This will place pressure on both commodity brokerage companies and exchanges to disclose sustainability data to food companies and retailers. 2) drive transformative change in the commodities industry while reducing burden on companies to work with commodity brokers one-on-one to improve sustainabilty performance and disclose sustainability attributes. 3) reduce impacts to people, land, water, and soil in agricultural regions around the world and to freshwater systems that flow through agricultural lands ultimately to the Earths oceans. In the U.S. specifically, this collective demand will reduce impacts, such as water quality, by sending a signal up the supply chain that sustainability performance is expected from producers and is required to sell into commodity markets. With this collaborative, collective, market approach this project could have impact far beyond individual company projects and even collective projects to improve water quality and resource efficiency.
Effective start/end date9/1/168/31/17


  • Walton Family Foundation: $16,490.00


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