@SustainAg.  Views expressed are solely those of Sara Harper.

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December 2011 Archive for EcoPragmatism

RSS By: Sara Hessenflow Harper, AgWeb.com

Sara is the Director of Sustainability & Supply-Chain Solutions for Vela Environmental, a division of Kennedy and Coe, LLC where she leads the firm's CSO On-Demand Services.  This blog explores the topic of agricultural sustainability -- including the market forces and hidden drivers propelling it from a pragmatic and solutions-oriented point of view.  Follow Sara on Twitter: @SustainAgViews expressed are solely those of Sara Harper.

Kraft's Sustainability Map

Dec 15, 2011

What was I just saying about risk management and food companies/retailers expanding their sustainability plans as risk management . . . ?

Well, if you'd like a more detailed look at what one company is doing, I recommend you read the PR Newswire press release on Kraft Foods environmental footprint map (see below).  Some things that caught my eye:

1.  "The bulk of Kraft Foods' environmental footprint originates on the farms that grow ingredients for the company's products."

2.  "From a 2010 base, by the end of 2015, Kraft Foods plans to increase sustainable sourcing of agricultural commodities by 25%."

As you think about these two points -- let alone all the other parts of the plan laid out below, ask yourself how they will be defining "sustainable sourcing," how they are determining pollution burden (i.e. which parts of their supply chain are causing which amounts of pollution) and who are the new producers they will be sourcing from?  

More food for thought!




-First-Of-Its-Kind Project Provides Initial Details Of Company's Effects On Climate, Land & Water; Validates Focus On Sustainable Agriculture



/PRNewswire/ -- Kraft Foods today shared results of a pioneering survey that measured its impact on climate change, land and water use.  The multi-year footprinting project -- in partnership with Quantis Inc. (www.quantis-intl.com) and reviewed and analyzed by World Wildlife Fund and notable academics at the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment – goes far beyond the company's walls. 

"Having the 'big picture' of our total footprint -- from farm to fork -- validates the focus of our sustainability efforts, particularly advancing sustainable agriculture," said Roger Zellner, Sustainability Director for Research, Development & Quality.  "Experts say climate change, land and water use may be among the biggest challenges in feeding a world of 9 billion people in 2050.  As we continue our sustainability journey, we now have more insight into where we can make the greatest difference." 

"This study shows that in order to make meaningful change and conserve nature's valuable resources, companies need to work with their suppliers to reduce the impact of producing raw materials," said Dave McLaughlin, VP of Agriculture at World Wildlife Fund. "This means forging long term partnerships based on shared objectives, creating a transformational supply chain, a key strategy of WWF's market transformation initiative."

The bulk of Kraft Foods' environmental footprint originates on the farms that grow ingredients for the company's products.  While the company does not own farms, the survey supports the work of its sustainable agriculture efforts on key commodities to improve crop yields, reduce environmental impacts and improve the lives of many of the farm workers and their families.  In addition, Kraft Foods continues to build upon previous success around energy, carbon dioxide, water, waste and packaging reductions.

Expanded Sustainability GoalsThis May, Kraft Foods announced expanded sustainability goals and highlighted progress against its six sustainability focus areas.  The company's new goals now include the Cadbury and LU businesses acquired since 2007.  And Kraft Foods has added transportation and agricultural commodities to what it will be measuring. 

From a 2010 base, by the end of 2015 Kraft Foods plans to(1):


  • Increase sustainable sourcing(2) of agricultural commodities by 25 percent
  • Reduce energy use in manufacturing plants by 15 percent
  • Reduce energy-related CO2 emissions in manufacturing plants by 15 percent
  • Reduce water consumption in manufacturing plants by 15 percent
  • Reduce waste at manufacturing plants by 15 percent
  • Eliminate 50,000 metric tons (100 million lbs.) of packaging material
  • Reduce 80 million km (50 million miles) from its transportation network


Progress Against 2005-2010 GoalsKraft Foods has made significant progress reducing energy, CO2 emissions, water, waste, packaging and transportation across its global operations(3).  From 2005 through 2010:


  • Energy use is down 16 percent
  • CO2 emissions are down 18 percent
  • Incoming water is down 30 percent
  • Net waste is down 42 percent
  • Packaging is down 100,000 metric tons (200 million lbs)
  • 96 million km (60 million road miles) have been removed from its transportation/distribution network 


Footprinting InsightsInteresting insights from Kraft Foods' footprinting work include:


  • More than 90 percent of the carbon footprint is outside its plants and offices, and nearly 60 percent is from farm commodities. 
  • About 12 percent of the carbon footprint is from transportation and distribution of products from stores to consumers' homes.
  • About 5 percent of the carbon footprint is from consumers, mostly in food preparation.
  • More than 80 percent of the land impact is from agriculture.  In comparison, the impact from manufacturing facilities and offices is negligible.
  • About 70 percent of the water footprint is from growing raw materials (including agricultural commodities used to make food products), while only 10 percent comes from manufacturing facilities/offices.
  • Another 10 percent comes from consumer use, mostly from food preparation. 


For additional information, including multimedia features such as an online video interview with the leader of Kraft Foods' footprinting efforts, along with downloadable high-resolution images, please visithttp://www.kraftfoodscompany.com/MediaCenter/country-press-releases/us/2011/Pages/multi_media_12142011.aspx.

About Kraft FoodsKraft Foods Inc. (NYSE: KFT) is a global snacks powerhouse with an unrivaled portfolio of brands people love. Proudly marketing delicious biscuits, confectionery, beverages, cheese, grocery products and convenient meals in approximately 170 countries, Kraft Foods had 2010 revenue of $49.2 billion. Twelve of the company's iconic brands – CadburyJacobsKraftLUMaxwell House,MilkaNabiscoOreoOscar MayerPhiladelphiaTang and Trident – generate revenue of more than $1 billion annually. On Aug. 4, 2011, Kraft Foods announced plans to divide and create two independent public companies: a high-growth global snacks business and a high-margin North American grocery business. The transaction will take at least 12 months to complete, during which time plans regarding the structure, management, governance and other matters will be announced. A leader in innovation, marketing, health & wellness and sustainability, Kraft Foods is a member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Standard & Poor's 500, Dow Jones Sustainability Index and Ethibel Sustainability Index. Visit www.kraftfoodscompany.com and www.facebook.com/kraftfoodscorporate.

(1) Measured against total production.(2) "Sustainably sourced" defined as third-party certification or verification.(3) Data measured against total production with a 2005 baseline.  Note: data do not include the Cadbury and LU businesses acquired since 2007.

- make today delicious -

SOURCE Kraft Foods



What's Really Driving Sustainability in the Ag Supply Chain?

Dec 05, 2011

When talking about "sustainable agriculture," people often jump to the short-hand descriptors of "small, local and organic" – or, they become mired down in arguments about the need to defend conventional agriculture from attacks made by activists wanting to roll back the clock to a time when everyone farmed.

What I have learned about sustainability from working on these issues for many years and by working within many of the ongoing sustainability measurement initiatives that include food retailers and processors is that there is an entirely different discussion about "sustainability" and agriculture going on in the marketplace that often doesn’t get talked about much. 

Food retailers and processors have increasingly been looking with concern at the long-term security of their supply chains.  With the challenge of 3 billion more people joining the planet within the next few decades, resource scarcity or contamination is a real threat in certain areas. 

Imagine if your company is primarily or exclusively, in some cases, sourcing its raw materials from an area that has been hit hard by drought and projected to lose access to a secure water supply source within the next 20 years!  This is a major, and costly, business risk you are facing.  I know from first hand conversations with processing companies that they are already making plant siting decisions based on these types of projections to both limit costs as well as avoid sustainability issues in the future.

Add to that numerous consumer research reports that indicate your next generation consumers are used to knowing a lot of information about anything they want – in the palm of their smartphone-holding hand; and you can see the outlines for why retailers, and consequently, food processors are becoming more and more interested in first understanding and ultimately, managing their long-term sustainability risks.

The key is that sustainability issues for these food retailers and food processors is really just a fancy and all-encompassing term for good old fashioned risk management.  This is perhaps one of the biggest reasons why the burgeoning demand for sustainability data has not gone away even in a bad economy.  The point I make to producers is that they should think about sustainability this way as well.

It is easy to think that "sustainability" is just the latest market fad that will disappear in a few years, and therefore, its just fine to ignore it.  In fact, ignoring it could help make it disappear – the thinking goes.  Having worked within a number of efforts that include food retailers and processors, I have to strongly disagree.  For example, click on the highlighted links that follow to see what a number of companies are up to on this topic:  Safeway, Walmart, Giant Grocery Stores, Kraft, Unilever, PepsiCo, Cargill (and many, many more . . .)

It is clear if you look at the stated policies and trendlines these businesses are following that sustainable data collection and ultimately, specific sustainable practice and data preferences are on the way for agriculture as an industry. 

The danger of this is of course significant.  If "sustainability" is defined in ways that are unworkable or biased against large-scale, efficient agriculture – or even focused on a one-size-fits all approach that so rarely works for diverse, dynamic living systems, there could be significant added cost and a push by the market for counterproductive practices stemming from unintended consequences.

Still, there is significant potential in this new trend as well.  Agriculture, as an industry, is engaged in a mighty effort to "tell its story" to urban consumers who in many cases feel disconnected from the food they buy and increasingly are expressing or buying into concerns pushed by activists.  This gap between growers and consumers is not good for either group.  Yet, if the focus is on essentially, just a large public relations campaign, the result could be limited.  But if agriculture’s "story" is paired with hard data backing up how efficient, safe, pro-community and yes, "sustainable" the industry is – then there is a real chance for connection trust-building between these two different cultures.  That trust acts as a social license to continue doing business unfettered by bad regulation (not all regulation) that ends up not solving the underlying problem but making life harder for farmers.

So, given the new market forces driving the desire to assess, measure and improve the sustainability of agricultural products, it becomes extremely important for producers and the groups that represent them to engage in understanding, shaping and facilitating this new market need.  This is all the more important because this is a market force, not a legislative one.  If the type of efforts being sought by food retailers were instead being asked for by our government, they would likely be dead in the water – because it is relatively easy for any lobbying group these days to kill something on Capitol Hill.  But you can’t call up your Senator and tell him to get Walmart, Safeway and Giant – among others, to stop measuring sustainability.

Agricultural groups are engaging on this topic, but of course, they remain very cautious.  As a result, action from the retailers appears to be far outpacing involvement from producer groups – at least on the whole.  To be clear, retailers are in the process right now of beginning to accumulate a list of sustainability "hotspots" they will look at as they decide who to buy agricultural products from.  That’s pretty far down the road.

Far be it from me to tell any farmer how to do their business, but from where I sit, it seems to be a pretty good idea for producers to include as part of their risk management plan education at the least about what is emerging on the sustainability market side.  A next step would be to engage either directly with efforts that are working on this issue or to support your farm organization’s greater involvement on these issues.

A few efforts you might be interested in on that front are Field-to-Market and Triple Bottom Line Commodities.  Full disclosure, I work with clients that are engaged in field-to-market and I am the coordinator of Triple Bottom Line Commodities.

Field-to-Market is an initiative facilitated by the non-profit Keystone Center that brings together a wide range of interests from grower groups to environmental groups to food processing companies.  The effort has resulted in a fieldprint calculator tool which allows growers to enter data specific to their farm and see how they compare on a number of environmental issues to others in their state and nationally.  The tool also allows farmers to run different practice scenarios and see the changes in their score that would occur.  This type of a tool empowers growers to assess their own land in a way that is anonymous.  It also allows growers to see some of the hotspot issues that food processors and retailers are increasingly interested in measuring and understand how different practices utilized in different regions stack up.

A key benefit of this approach to assessing sustainability is that it is focused on measuring actual performance rather than merely meeting some arbitrarily assembled check list that supposedly encompasses sustainability.  It helps the farmer see the value to their farm and to the environment if a certain practice is used on their soil type with their slope and in their growing region.

Another effort working on the business side of this issue is a unique network of farmers called Triple Bottom Line (TBL) Commodities.  This group’s focus is on influencing and facilitating the private market’s growing needs for sustainability data.  The group contains a diverse set of strategic-minded top producers growing commodities like corn, soy, wheat, beef, hogs, dairy and ethanol.  Recently, this group joined The Sustainability Consortium – an independent organization housed within the University of Arkansas and Arizona State University focusing on developing a sustainability measurement system.  With members like Walmart, Safeway, Giant and numerous food processors, the Consortium is becoming a unifying nexus for establishing general parameters for sustainability measurement.  There are only 3 grower groups that are part of the Consortium: Dairy Management Inc., Cotton Inc., and TBL Commodities. 

I’ve always believed its better to be "at the table, than on the menu."  Well friends, the sustainability "dinner" is being planned.  Now is definitely the time to help create the menu!




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