Methodology

On 21 September 2021, we launched the first Food and Agriculture Benchmark, assessing and ranking 350 of the world’s most influential food and agriculture companies on their contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals.

These companies were assessed using the 2021 Methodology for the Food and Agriculture Benchmark, which includes 45 indicators distributed across four measurement areas of governance and strategy, environment, nutrition and social inclusion. The methodology and indicators, based on extensive stakeholder consultation over several years, are connected to a company’s full value chain – at corporate level, in the workplace, in the supply chain, marketplace and community.

Individual company results are presented in 350 company scorecards which contain detailed assessments of performance. A separate scoring sheet also contains information on the scores of each companies on each indicator.

See methodology

Approach to scoring and ranking

The benchmark scores each of the 45 indicators by using a set of criteria based on stakeholders’ expectations, the SDGs, the best available science, guidance from experts, and extensive research on existing initiatives and current practices. These criteria were then translated into indicator scoring guidelines. To accurately reflect companies’ leading and lagging practices, the scoring guidelines were finalised after the data analysis process was complete and were published at the same time as the results.

As the benchmark focuses on keystone companies in the food and agriculture sector, the parent companies were the starting point and main unit of analysis. In scoring performance across different subsidiaries, we sought to assess performance at a group-wide level to ensure all relevant operations worldwide for a company were assessed and held accountable. In some cases with complex group structures, this resulted in companies receiving a low overall score where only one food and agriculture subsidiary was leading on activities and other subsidiaries lagged behind.

Six benchmark segments

The 350 companies assessed in the benchmark span the entirety of the food and agriculture value chain. The ranking encompasses companies active in the agricultural input, agricultural products and commodities, animal protein, processing and manufacturing, retail and food service segments.

Companies were ranked in a total benchmark ranking, as well as through segment rankings, ensuring peer-to-peer comparison and an understanding of the role of different segments in the food system.

Data collection process

Relevant information for the benchmark was collected in the first instance using publicly available sources in the English language from company websites, including annual, sustainability, corporate responsibility and integrated reports. All companies in scope were also invited to directly participate in the data collection process by submitting information through an online survey through an eight-week data collection process in April-May 2021. Refinitiv Eikon was used as the starting point for revenue and employee numbers of the companies in scope. These figures were then checked with other public sources and included in company scorecards for feedback from companies, although not all companies responded.