How our benchmarks are driving companies to improve sustainability practices

Our benchmarks guide and incentivise companies to improve their impacts for a sustainable future. Our benchmarks also enable companies to compare actions and progress over time and against their peers, to identify policies and practices for improvement, and to identify where urgent action is needed to deliver on the SDGs.

In 2022, company engagement with our benchmarks continued to increase, with a general improvement in company scores over time, indicating the impact and influence our methodologies, benchmarking, and Alliance engagement have on company behaviour.

Mainly, we have seen examples of companies linking their key performance indicators (KPIs) to their performance in our benchmarks and, in some cases, linking executive remuneration to the KPIs.

A case in point is our Food and Agriculture Benchmark, which assesses 350 of the world’s most influential food and agriculture companies on their contributions to transforming our global food system. In 2022, we were asked to assess annual progress against the pledge made by 22 global food and agriculture companies – the Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative (G7 SSCI) – to improve the environmental, social and nutritional impact of their operations and supply chains.

The G7 SSCI was launched in 2021 through close collaboration with the UK government and the other G7 member states. Collectively, the 22 companies involved in the initiative earn over USD 550 billion in annual global revenue, employ over two million people directly, with millions more throughout their supply chains, and represent both upstream and downstream segments of the value chain.

The results of our 2022 review of the companies’ progress, using indicators from our Food and Agriculture Benchmark, showed encouraging results. More than three quarters (16 of the 21 companies assessed) improved on at least one topic deemed crucial for food systems transformation. Environmental topics saw the most significant improvement – 13 companies improved their performance on various environmental indicators, including targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, eliminating food loss and waste, and reducing water use. Eleven companies improved on social topics, namely on eliminating child and forced labour; and nine companies improved on governance and strategy. A smaller number of companies (five) improved on nutrition.

Encouragingly, all companies improved their public disclosure by publishing new and relevant reports and policies on their sustainability strategies, signalling that embedding corporate accountability into a public initiative helps drive change. We believe these results provide a strong evidence base for future public-private dialogues and encourage more collaboration to identify the actions still needed to address global supply chain resilience.

This story is an excerpt from our 2022 Annual Report. Three-quarters of companies that pledged to improve practices as part of the SSCI have improved on at least one topic since being assessed in the 2021 Food and Agriculture Benchmark.

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