A five year development road map

For the development of the Food and Agriculture Benchmark, WBA follows a five-year roadmap. Throughout, it will align with relevant agendas of global platforms and initiatives so that the data, key findings and recommendations can be integrated into broader stakeholder actions and community outreach. A central moment in this five-year roadmap is the publication of the first Benchmark at the end of 2021. This Benchmark will identify clear frontrunners of the food system transformation agenda.

The Food and Agriculture Benchmark is one of the first global benchmarks that takes an entire value chain approach. The 350 keystone companies are selected as part of WBA’s SDG2000, the 2000 keystone companies that will be assessed within WBA benchmarks by 2023.

​The companies selected for WBA’s Food and Agriculture Benchmark were identified through the concept of keystone actors: these are companies across the food and agriculture value chain with a disproportionate impact on the structure and function of the system in which they operate. Most of these large companies work with thousands of business partners, through subsidiaries and their own production and distribution networks. The majority of companies are publicly listed, with the remaining a mix of private, state-owned and cooperative business models.


Numerous recent publications have reiterated the link between food, the environment, health and well-being, as well as the urgent need for food system transformation. The framework focuses on three interlinked areas of the food system transformation: nutrition, environment and social inclusion.

For the private sector to play its part, we need consensus on how to get there and what is expected of businesses, in addition to better and more timely insights into actual performance. The framework is a first attempt to translate the food system transformation agenda into a recipe for change for the private sector. It sets out the critical areas where private sector action is needed and where companies must step up their efforts to collectively transform the system. WBA, its Allies and collaborating partners have identified the topics that are fundamental for change and translated them into meaningful and actionable activities, or ‘industry asks’.

How to read the framework

The framework is intended to serve as a guide for companies in their efforts to formulate commitments and actions for the coming decade. It also lays the foundation for the next steps of methodology development for the benchmark.

Go to the framework

Value chain

The global food and agriculture value chain is a vast, complex and inter-connected network, incorporating stakeholders from the public and private sectors, from smallholder farmers to consumers, and reaching every country on earth. Based on existing frameworks and research on the structure and activities of keystone companies, for the purpose of the Food and Agriculture Benchmark, WBA has organised the food and agriculture value chain into six sub-sectors. These sub-sectors are also reflected in the methodology framework, which conceptualises and places key topics along the value chain and where they are most materially relevant in relation to company operations and supply chains.

WBA’s benchmark takes a food-centric approach; for this reason, commodities and industries such as tobacco, cotton and forestry (and consequently, companies within each) were not considered for inclusion, primarily due to a lack of alignment and contribution to health and nutrition, one of the three pillars of our methodological framework. Furthermore, while the value chain is largely sequential (with products and services passing from one segment to another), the system’s complexity is reinforced by the large amount of companies which are either horizontally or vertically integrated.