Kai Robertson, Director, Food, Beverage, & Agriculture Practice, BSR

Global demand for food, feed, and fiber is expected to rise by 70 percent as the population grows, incomes rise, and a larger proportion of people settle in urban areas. This demand will put greater pressure on securing supply, while the constraints on land, energy, water, and other inputs required by agriculture will also increase.

Faced with these challenges, many companies are seeking to incorporate sustainability into their sourcing programs. For large, consumer-facing companies in particular, connecting down to the farm level can be challenging, since global supply chains are complex and often include thousands—if not millions—of farmers. As these companies seek to better understand the risks and opportunities associated with production of their agricultural inputs, they’re asking questions: Where do I start? How do I prioritize where to deploy resources? What are my risks and opportunities for innovation? How do I integrate sustainability considerations into procurement decision-making?

To help companies navigate the path to a sustainable sourcing strategy that supports future growth, BSR contributed to the publication of “Sustainable Sourcing of Agricultural Raw Materials: A Practitioner’s Guide,” which was developed through a unique collaboration among seven high-profile organizations.* The guide provides a set of practical questions and suggestions for implementing sustainable sourcing, highlighting examples of steps being taken by a range of companies including the Coca-Cola Company, McDonald’s, PepsiCo, Starbucks, Unilever, and Walmart.

As continuous improvement and learning is a foundation of sustainable agriculture, this guide is meant, similarly, to be improved upon. We encourage those of you who read the guide to share comments and feedback on suggested improvements through the form included on our website.

*The collaborating partners are: the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform, the CSL Learning Platform of IMD’s Global Center for Sustainability Leadership, the International Trade Centre, and the Sustainable Trade Initiative with support from BSR, the Sedex Information Exchange, and the Sustainable Food Laboratory. 

For BSR’s perspective on how companies can reduce pre- and post-harvest food losses in particular, read our recent brief, "Losses in the Field: An Opportunity Ripe for Harvesting."