The Sustainability Consortium (TSC), Scottsdale, Ariz., announced plans to remove farm data reporting barriers related to sustainability.

The objectives are to:

  • Develop digital solutions for the agricultural supply chain to address TSC key performance indicators (KPIs).
  • Translate and bridge the information from various sustainability standard organizations for more standardized reporting and exchange of data through automation.
  • Attempt to streamline grower data entry across sustainability standards for those that align with TSC KPIs.

TSC is a global non-profit organization leading the transformation of the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. Among other initiatives, it works closely with farm management supply chain partners to address points of disconnect in farm data flow to the food, beverage and agriculture business sectors. Customer surveys suggest that improvements in technology can be part of the solution, along with education of supply chain partners and standard policy harmonization.

This effort is being funded by a grant awarded by the Walmart Foundation, which put together a team of organizations and companies such as Agrible, a Champaign, Ill.-based company that specializes in analyzing and providing agronomic information using science and technology to transform data into globally useful knowledge.

“Digital technology is transforming just about everything we do and how we engage with today’s consumers,” says Jeff Peters, vice president of sustainability for Agrible. “With billions of connection points already existing for consumers, there is still a significant digital disconnect in supply chains for this rapidly-growing area of sustainability. TSC realizes the need to address this critical pain point in documenting sustainability, and is taking steps to harness the full scope of digitizing through interoperability and connectivity of systems.”

TSC surveys also reveals one of the main challenges in food product supply chains is the inability of farmers to respond to questions about their sustainability practices with definitive answers. The organization’s tools were used by retailers to collect nearly 64,000 responses from suppliers to KPIs across all sectors in 2017. Of the approximately 15% of those questions that addressed agricultural impacts, more than half of the respondents answered “we are unable to determine at this time.”

“From interviews with companies, we’ve found that many need help establishing the communications systems needed to accurately answer TSC KPIs. The goal of this project is to highlight the work that farm sustainability platforms like Field to Market, Cool Farm Tool and others are doing to create sustainability information connections between growers and food companies, as well as provide information needed by partners like Agrible to lead in the development of new solutions,” says Christy Slay, director, technical alignment at TSC and lead on the project.

TSC is jointly managed by the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Ariz., and Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz.