The Food and Agriculture Benchmark will be the first of its kind to benchmark leading companies across the entirety of the food system, from farm to fork. It will cover the multiple dimensions where transformation is needed: sustainable production, healthy diets and nutrition as well as social inclusion.
Why a Food and Agriculture Benchmark?
One of the most pressing global challenges of our time is feeding a growing population of 10 billion people by 2050 a healthy diet produced sustainably. According to the landmark EAT Lancet Commission report, published in January 2019, this is possible but will require no less than a Great Food Transformation. Action is needed quickly, by all relevant stakeholders, to prevent risking falling short in meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Practically all of the food consumed across the world is produced by farmers and supplied through agricultural value chains operated by the private sector. This puts both large, multinational enterprises and small and medium sized enterprises at the heart of transforming the global food system and meeting the targets for healthy diets and sustainable food production.
Based on the EAT-Lancet agenda and other target-setting initiatives for food system transformation, the Food and Agriculture Benchmark will evaluate companies in three main dimensions: environment, nutrition and social inclusion. These dimensions will be used to create a measurement framework that will inform the development of specific indicators to assess companies. It will build upon science-based targets, existing standards and accountability frameworks that are relevant for the three dimensions.
The benchmark will likely be conducted on an annual basis and aims to provide an evidence base to the dialogue around industry and company performance and drive action among stakeholders.
To signpost which companies can be catalysts for change, WBA has identified which industries have the greatest potential to contribute to food system transformation. Our scope report sets out these industries alongside an initial list of around 300 companies that were identified for inclusion in the Food and Agriculture Benchmark across the entirety of the food and agricultural value chain.
The food and agriculture value chain consists of a number of different sectors and industries; beginning with inputs (including fertilizers, seeds, agrochemicals and machinery) moving through production and processing (with agricultural commodity traders, dairy and livestock prominent, among others) towards consumer-facing distributors (primarily food retail alongside food service and restaurants). Dominant companies present within these segments are often vertically integrated and frequently demonstrate diverse business models with influence across several key industries. They also have global footprints, many with a significant impact on developing countries, through their operations, supply chains and the products and services they provide. These companies are referred to as keystone actors.
The Food and Agriculture Benchmark will be based on the development process of the WBA. Once the scope of which industries and companies to include in the Food and Agriculture Benchmark is defined, methodology and indicator development will start in the second of half of this year.
Next steps for the Food and Agriculture Benchmark will be to:
- Collect feedback from all stakeholders on the scope, industries and companies identified to inclusion in the benchmark.
- Map in greater detail current scientific targets, existing standards and accountability frameworks across the three dimensions of food system transformation.
- Start consultation and dialogue with stakeholders to develop meaningful and actionable indicators and methodology.
- Build the Expert Review Committee of a broad and balanced group of multi-stakeholder representatives to guide the methodology.
This will allow us to publish further details on the methodology and begin a baseline benchmark of corporate performance in 2020.
The Food and Agriculture Benchmark will be developed in close collaboration with an Expert Review Committee (ERC), which members support the core team with their expertise and experience.
Publications and other media
Over the coming months WBA will continue engaging with stakeholders, through targeted engagement and communications with key organisations and representatives through a programme of events, meetings and calls.
We would very much welcome feedback from all interested parties on the proposed scope of the Food and Agriculture Benchmark.