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The power of retailers

New research suggests that grocers’ sustainability programs are capable of driving farmers’ environmental practices

Photo credit: Katherine SmitPhoto credit: Katherine Smit

Can a grocery chain’s sustainability program affect farmers’ environmental practices? According to a recent study out of Stanford University, the answer is yes.

In examining the agricultural supply chain of Woolworths in South Africa (one of the largest supermarket chains in the country), Stanford researchers found that Woolworths’ “Farming for the Future” program was able to increase adoption of better environmental practices for farmers. The university is calling this “one of the first analyses of a company-led sustainability program in the food and agriculture space.” 

The study, called “Improving environmental practices in agricultural supply chains: The role of company-led standards,” was published online in the journal Global Environmental Change.

“If indeed these company-led policies are effective and able to transform their entire supply chains, then they can potentially transform land-use practices worldwide and have a very positive impact on the environment,” said the study’s co-author Eric Lambin, a professor at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences. “Having this kind of evaluation done by independent researchers increases the confidence of the public in these private programs.”

For more details on the study, read this article on the Stanford News website.

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