farming analysis

The report urges industries to share and collate data on supply chains

The agrifood sector is failing to commit to ‘vital’ sustainable production methods in the face of surging global demand, a new report claims.

Some 80% of the supply chain is yet to commit to sustainable practices, despite global agricultural outputs needing to increase by 20% every decade for the next 40 years, according to a white paper by agricultural consultancy Promar International.

For the retail sector, using data to create supply chain efficiencies and improve sustainability could ultimately reduce resource demand, says Matthew Brennan, senior environmental consultant at Promar.

“Many companies that manage supply chains work in isolation, and therefore industries are not collating or sharing data,” he says. “Without the transparent collection and collation of data, it’s impossible to have a proper understanding of supply chains.

“Consumers are pushing retailers for change. The sustainability of a product on the shelf is affected by the entire supply chain. A collaborative approach to drive data collection, collation and interpretation is the only way forward.”

The report highlights McDonald’s as ‘pioneering resilience and responsibility’ in the supply chain. It purchases ingredients from more than 17,500 British and Irish farmers each year, sources all tea and coffee from Rainforest Alliance producers, and ensures 100% of potatoes used in its French Fries are grown in the UK.

“Retailers have a duty to inform consumers about what is being done to drive sustainable supply,” says Brennan. “They must provide direct clarity so consumers can be reassured that they’re buying sustainably sourced produce. It’s also the best opportunity to reduce costs, help manage cost of production and maintain costs for the consumer.”