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White Paper Increasing Emphasis on Sustainable Supply Chains: Implications for Retailers and Manufacturers

By Meredith Reisfield

Categories: Sustainability, Supply Chain Visibility, Supply Chain Mapping

Eighty-two percent of grocery retail CEOs now cite sustainability as a key priority and 68 percent publish a sustainability report.1 Retailers are increasingly feeling the effect of sustainability-driven industry disruptions. Already feeling their margins pinched, retailers are among the first to gain or lose a competitive advantage from changing consumer demands for sustainable products, and retailers are aligning with these changing consumer demands.

Amplified attention to sustainable supply chains in retail has been driven by factors including brand reputation, risk mitigation, compliance and cost savings. These factors are augmented by mounting pressure from consumers, advocacy groups and other public-sector organizations, fueled by heightened recognition that with access to both thousands of suppliers and millions of consumers, retailers are in a uniquely influential position in supply chains. Retailers’ unique ability to influence how products are made, transported, sold and consumed will have growing impacts for both the retail industry and the manufacturers who supply them.

With decision-making spread across a diverse array of buyers, category managers, procurement specialists, store associates, logistics professionals and other team members, retailers face inherent barriers to incorporating sustainability into their daily decision-making. To combat this, retailers are deploying a diverse toolkit to move toward more sustainable supply chains. Increasingly, retailers are deploying multiple approaches simultaneously and requesting additional data, time commitments and other resources from suppliers in pursuit of sustainability goals.

Leveraging Technology to Integrate Data

The axiom that you can’t manage what you don’t measure also applies to a retailer’s ability to create a sustainable value chain. With only 16 percent of the top 50 grocers analyzing how sustainability efforts translate into financial outcomes, and with many of the largest and best global corporations still using spreadsheets to handle environmental data, retailers struggle to assess their performance and chart a path forward.2,3 The ability to track data allows retailers to more effectively make decisions, work with their suppliers in specific, data identified areas. Quality and compliance software, like TraQtion corporate sustainability reporting software powered by NSF, can weave sustainability data management capabilities with core competencies in food quality and safety, allowing for easy data gathering, reporting and decision making.

Download the full white paper

1 http://www.oliverwyman.com/content/dam/oliver-wyman/global/en/2014/dec/RJ2014%2005_Sustainable%20Retail.pdf
2 http://www.oliverwyman.com/content/dam/oliver-wyman/global/en/2014/dec/RJ2014%2005_Sustainable%20Retail.pdf
3 https://igel.wharton.upenn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/2012_0601_IGEL_Supply-Chain-Sustainability_LR.pdf