New agribusiness backed digital tool designed to simplify sustainability measurement and reporting

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/magnetcreative
© GettyImages/magnetcreative

Related tags Sustainability transparency Adm EUDR forced labor Soy Palm oil Corn

Agricultural and food production systems face increasing sustainability challenges and are under growing legislative and public pressure. A new digital platform – TRACT – has been launched to boost transparency in feed and food supply chains - from growers to retailers.

Those behind the new tool, which has been evaluated by an initial set of external users, say it enables users to compare metrics and methodologies across multiple product categories all in one place for the first time.

Agribusiness giants - Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), Cargill, Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) and Olam – provided the initial funding and talent for TRACT and collaborated with other companies and non-profit organizations to develop the platform.

TRACT is now officially established as an independent company, with a leadership team consisting of executives from within the food and agriculture sectors.

In the launch phase, the platform is focused on end-to-end traceability of coffee and palm supply chains.

Shortly afterwards, it will include sustainability insights related to carbon emissions and initial EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR)​ reporting functionality to enable users to start their journey to EUDR compliance. The platform will then expand to allow for metrics on deforestation​, child labor risk, forced labor risk and living income along with new product categories including soy​, corn, cocoa, and cotton.

Those new product categories will be added in 2024. The objective is to have more than six categories on the platform in 2024 and more than 12 in 2025, according to Tom Oldfield, TRACT’s CSO.

Industry-wide challenge 

“TRACT is unique as we not only align methodologies but also build them into a platform – enabling a common method for measuring, aggregating, and comparing data – across supply chains and more than one product category. This is new and we believe it will be transformative for the sector.

“And it is the first time that the industry has come together – a pre-competitive collaboration - to develop an impactful solution for this industry-wide issue,” he told FeedNavigator.

Typical users of this platform would be sustainability specialists, controllers, general management, procurement managers at companies that are stakeholders within food and ag supply chains like suppliers of ag commodities and food ingredients, consumer packaged goods companies, food service companies, retailers.

Birth of an idea

The trigger for the development of the platform was the confirmation from a group of suppliers and buyers of agricultural commodities and food ingredients that such a tool was desperately needed, reported Oldfield.

“They saw that pre-competitively collaborating on how to measure sustainability performance would bring the industry forward. Olam initially convened a group of 12 leading companies (including the four investor companies but also including big consumer brands) who were willing and able to work on this together.”

Buyers and suppliers of food and agricultural commodities, products, and ingredients from over 20 companies have been involved in some way in the development of TRACT. Company names are not being disclosed for now, said the CSO.

“We also have an eco-system of more than 10 other stakeholder organizations, including non-profits, which have been involved in the creation of TRACT. We continue to meet with them and others to be part of the platform’s further development. Some of those involved so far include: Proforest​, AimProgress, Verité, and WRI.”

tract metrics

Sustainability performance

TRACT applies comparable and aggregable methodologies so that sustainability measurement from multiple sources make sense and can be easily compared and reported, said the CSO. 

It consists of sustainability performance measurement data and insights linked to products supplied between actors in food and agriculture supply chains, with the tool built on a robust traceability model that links data to the particular parts of the food and ag supply chains, from plantations, farmer groups through to processing, mills, refineries and manufacturing, he explained.

“The platform is designed as a one-stop-shop for sustainability measurement, so it brings together several platforms/tools, such as traceability, carbon footprinting, and remote monitoring tools to utilize data in a more simplified way. 

"By simplifying sustainability measurement and reporting, users will be able to focus more of their resources on impact delivery. A focus on improving sustainability performance would benefit multiple stakeholders.”

Data sharing and ownership

The companies using the system own the data and decide what they want to upload and share, which could include third-party verified data, which would be flagged.

“We will add a third-party verification for data uploaded on the platform. Users of the platform will be able to make use of this if they wish. TRACT will also have its own internal processes and calculators audited by a third party to ensure the methodologies are correct and data is protected,” confirmed Oldfield.

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