Using a pesticide risk analysis, an agricultural risk analysis and supplier engagement to ultimately inform a roadmap of recommendations to drive high impact change over time

Our team assessed agricultural supply chain risks, including pesticide-related risks, across 19 priority supply chains for a large North American Food Producer in order to inform where and how the company engages their suppliers and supply chains to mitigate risks. We focused on identifying practical, cost-effective, impactful sustainable sourcing solutions.

The Challenge

According to the Global Sustainability Study 2021, consumers are increasingly demanding sustainable production, making sustainability the expectation rather than the exception. For food companies, this means that they must respond to these increasing pressures by making changes in their supply chains, where most potential for impacts lies. It can sometimes be difficult for companies to figure out where to start when making these changes, which is where Sustainable Food Group can help. For this specific project, our client wanted to understand pesticide risk and agricultural risk in their priority crops.

Our Role

To understand potential risks and opportunities, we began by assessing pesticide-related risks across 19 priority crops. The pesticide risk assessment analyzes several categories– consumer dietary health, pollinators and environmental and work risks. We also evaluated the broader pest management context which includes analyzing the supply chain of a particular crop and market risks and general IPM adoption which involves looking at which pesticides are of particular concern to consumers/NGOs. Following the results of this analysis our team recommended strategies related to grower engagement.

Following the pesticide risk assessment, our client decided that it would be important to make decisions about how and where to engage based not only on pesticide-related risks, but on a comprehensive assessment of agricultural risks across the same 19 priority supply chains. We assessed a wide range of risks including fertilizer, deforestation, water, labor, soil health, climate and habitat/biodiversity. Based on the results of this analysis and an assessment of potential to engage each supply chain, we recommended strategies and opportunities to partner with suppliers and NGOs working within priority supply chains towards goals aligned with opportunities identified in the risk assessments, including support for soil health and climate initiatives.

These risk assessments led us to design a new scope of work around grower engagement in crops with high risks. More specifically, this phase of work included supplier surveys and interviews to collect grower feedback about soil health, nutrient and pest management, high risk pesticide use, pollinator protection efforts and greenhouse gas emissions reduction. These surveys and interviews will help our client understand potential supply chain risks and opportunities in greater depth and will ultimately inform risk mitigation and sustainable sourcing strategies.

The Outcome

The extensive investigation into risks and opportunities in our client’s supply chain over three phases of work ultimately informed a roadmap of opportunities. The roadmap outlined good opportunities, better opportunities and best opportunities for our client over the next ten years, providing them with many informed options