Several of the world’s biggest retailers and food companies backed a new initiative from the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) to improve global supply chains, boosting sustainable sourcing and streamlining benchmarking.
Kellogg Company, Nestlé, and Walmart are among the companies supporting the forum’s Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative (SSCI), Thomson Reuters Foundation’s Kieran Guilbert reported.
“From chocolate and tea to shrimp and sugar, food and drink supply chains are complex with multiple layers across various countries — whether in sourcing raw ingredients or processing the final product — making it hard to spot and remedy abuses,” Guilbert wrote.
The new initiative aims to support the development of socially and environmentally responsible supply chains. By undergoing benchmarking and achieving SSCI recognition, brand owners signal their commitment to raising the bar, the Consumer Goods Forum says.
“The SSCI will provide buyers and suppliers with clear guidance on which third-party auditing and certification schemes cover key sustainability requirements and apply robust verification practices,” according to the CGF. “The SSCI will ensure confidence in sustainable sourcing, reduce audit duplication and complexity for all stakeholders, and ultimately drive positive social and environmental impact on the ground.”
The Consumer Goods Forum, a global parity-based industry network, brings together the CEOs and senior management of around 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers, and other stakeholders across 70 countries. Member companies have combined sales of $4.24 trillion and directly employ nearly 10 million people, the CGF says.
Initially the Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative will focus on social compliance, and then likely expand to environmental compliance, according to the CGF. Development for the environmental benchmark is expected to start early next year.
“The harmonization of global sustainability standards is extremely important to us as a business and so is sourcing our raw materials sustainably,” Mike Coupe, CEO of the UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s said. “We hope this will provide our buyers and suppliers with clear guidance on third party audits and certification and avoid duplication and complexity of sustainability standards in our value chains.”
Efforts to improve supply chain transparency have been on the rise. Earlier this year, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs launched a real-time supply chain transparency tool. Apparel brands including New Balance, Gap, Target, Puma, and Esprit are now linked publicly to their suppliers’ environmental performance.