How traceability can make the agrochemical industry more sustainable

The agrochemical industry’s drive for sustainability

In recent years, the agrochemical industry has made strides to respond to public calls for environmental sensitivity and long-term sustainability. In fact, a quick browse through the websites of the world’s 10 top agrochemical companies reveals a growing concern for sustainable practices. All companies have dedicated a webpage to the issue.

A major driver of this shift toward sustainability has been the increased consumer demand for organic food and food products. Consumers and other stakeholders increasingly want to know where products come from, how they are produced and processed, and where they end up.

In addition, while “reliability and efficiency were long the top priorities of supply chain management, now, COVID-19 has thrust resilience into the spotlight. But, to be resilient, supply chains must also be sustainable. Central do achieving sustainable supply chains is the ability of manufacturers to have full visibility and traeability across these chain”.  (World Economic Forum, 2020)

How can traceability make the agrochemical industry more sustainable? 

The way forward requires an investment in technologies to improve the transparency of the supply chain. Track-and-trace solutions have been grabbing the sector’s attention for a while now. These refer to equipment and software that enable agrochemical companies to identify and track saleable assets as they travel through the supply chain (item origin, current location, status, etc.). In addition, the process generates granular data that can be leveraged to make real-time decisions to meet the needs of people, the planet and profit.

 

Among other benefits, traceability empowers companies to take control of their products’ carbon footprint, verify the authenticity of a product and its components at every step of the supply chain, and track conditions to help prevent product damage, diversion and waste.

 

Benefits of acting more sustainably 

Supply chain visibility. A Bain & Company survey (2020) found that up to 60% of executives have no visibility into items in their supply chain beyond their first-tier suppliers. Visibility and sustainability work hand in hand. Being able to see exactly what’s happening within a supply chain, not only allows you to act more sustainably, but it can also allow you to predict sub-optimal events or disruptions.

 

Brand reputation and consumer trust. Sustainability is good for the planet and for public health, first and foremost, but what about the third “P,” which stands for profit? If consumer demand is any indication, sustainable practices also have obvious long-term benefits for the bottom lines of companies willing to invest in a more sustainable future, as they contribute to re-establishing brand reputation and consumer trust.

 

Counterfeit and illegal pesticides. The industry has understood the importance of producing and investing in products that are safe, sustainable and ethical. Yet, companies may justifiably argue that they have another major issue on their plate: The growing global trade of counterfeit and illegal pesticides haunts the industry and impacts heavily on gains, for instance. Acting more sustainably by implemeting tools to track and trace goods within supply chains eliminates this risk.

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