7 Key Standards of CSRD for the Food and Agriculture Sector

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, 12 minute read

Quick summary: Uncover the essential 7 key standards outlined by CSRD (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive) that are shaping the future of sustainability reporting in the Food and Agriculture Sector. Explore how these standards are influencing environmental, social, and governance practices, and learn why compliance is vital for companies navigating the evolving landscape of agricultural sustainability.

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In recent times, sustainability has emerged as a pivotal focus, captivating the attention of every participant in the agricultural supply chain. From food and beverage corporations to entities in the agricultural supply chain and even individual farmers, the influence of sustainability is palpable. With a rising demand from both consumers and investors for heightened environmental, social, and governance (ESG) accountability, the imperative to adhere to ESG compliance standards has reached unprecedented levels. What precisely do these ESG compliance standards encompass? How do they specifically pertain to agri-food companies? 7 key standards of Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) frameworks influence the Food and Agri businesses. 

CSRD serves as a lighthouse in the realm of sustainability reporting, striving to cultivate transparency and uniformity in how companies unveil non-financial information. Born from the European Union’s dedication to sustainable development, this directive guides organizations towards a more all-encompassing and standardized approach to reporting.The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS),  stand at the forefront of driving the sustainability agenda in the European Union. 

From 2024, most EU companies will have to disclose information on environmental protection measures and report on negative impacts such as sustainability risks throughout the value chain. 

This blog delves into the intricate relationship between CSRD and the food and agriculture sector, exploring the definition and overview of CSRD, contextualizing its relevance in this specific industry, and highlighting the crucial role of sustainability reporting in modern business practices. 

Context of CSRD in the Food and Agriculture Sector 

In the ongoing global battle against climate change, regulatory scrutiny has intensified, with a spotlight now shining brightly on the food and beverage industry. This heightened attention stems from the industry’s commitment to value chain accountability and its substantial contribution to Scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions which encompass the emissions from farmers within their supply chain. The intricacies of the food value chain, known for its fragmentation, significantly contribute to the environmental footprint of the food and beverage (F&B) sector.  

Given that agriculture ranks among the largest sources of GHG emissions, Scope 3 emissions are projected to make up an average of 89% of total emissions for many F&B companies.  

Consequently, substantial investments in agricultural supply chains are imperative to curtail and manage these emissions effectively. In this landscape, the imperative for F&B companies lies in a focused approach to environmental data sourcing and reporting. Accurate and comprehensive data on their environmental impact serve as the compass guiding these companies toward identifying areas for improvement, implementing targeted strategies, and monitoring progress over time. As the sector navigates these challenges, the quest for sustainability becomes not only a responsibility but a compelling narrative shaping the future of food and beverage industry practices. 

What is the CSRD? 

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) stands as a recent framework for sustainability reporting, compelling companies to furnish standardized and thorough data on their sustainability performance and climate-related risks. This directive guarantees that investors and stakeholders are equipped with comparable information to assess the impact and risks of companies throughout their value chain. The mandate further necessitates companies to present this data in a digital format, integrating it seamlessly into their annual reports. 

The European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) constitute a set of reporting mandates aligned with the EU taxonomy and various voluntary reporting frameworks. This initiative is expressly undertaken to standardize and synchronize reporting practices. 

7 Key Standards of the CSRD Relevant to Food and Agriculture 

Within the food and agriculture sector, where the environment is both a resource and a concern, the environmental disclosures mandated by CSRD become pivotal. Reporting on aspects such as carbon footprints and water usage is crucial for businesses aligning their practices with sustainable goals. Sustainability practices extend beyond environmental considerations to encompass social responsibility. The CSRD mandates reporting on labor practices, human rights, and community engagement. In the food and agriculture sector, understanding the social fabric of operations is fundamental for building trust and credibility. Transparent governance structures and business models are integral to sustainability reporting. CSRD emphasizes the need for companies to disclose their governance practices, ensuring that decision-making processes align with sustainability objectives. This becomes particularly relevant in the food and agriculture sector, where supply chain complexities necessitate robust governance. 

Discover why ESG matters and how it is reshaping sustainability practices in the agricultural sector. 

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Companies with value chains encompassing agricultural production, such as those in the food and beverage sector, must particularly focus on seven crucial standards. 

Climate Change, Pollution, Water & Marine Resources, Biodiversity& Ecosystem, Resource use & Circular Economy, Workers in Value Chain, and Affected Communities. 

Climate Change 

Companies are required to evaluate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across their entire value chain, encompassing agricultural practices like fertilization, tilling, or deforestation. Additionally, they must confront potential risks to the company stemming from extreme weather events and disruptions in agricultural production. 

Pollution 

Companies are obligated to disclose information regarding the utilization of agrochemicals, including insecticides and herbicides, requiring quantification and targeted measures. Moreover, companies must articulate their strategies to mitigate the risk of soil pollution and the runoff of chemicals. 

Water & Marine Resources 

In the case of irrigated crops, companies must evaluate the quantity of water utilized and inquire whether it is employed efficiently and safely to prevent substantial chemical runoff. 

Biodiversity & Ecosystem 

Companies are obligated to provide reports on the impacts of climate change, land-use changes, pollution, and land degradation. It is imperative for them to disclose whether the crops they source are cultivated in deforested regions and whether the use of agrichemicals, particularly in crops like coffee and cocoa, is causing harm to wildlife and biodiversity. 

Resource Use & Circular Economy 

Companies are required to explicitly detail information pertaining to resource use and the circular economy. Furthermore, they are mandated to report on the actions taken to prevent, alleviate, or address the real or potential adverse impacts of resource use and circular economy practices, along with providing the outcomes of these measures. 

Workers in Value Chain 

Companies are obligated to disclose information about working conditions, encompassing factors like fair wages and the health and safety of workers within their value chains. Additionally, companies must undertake due diligence to guarantee the absence of child labor or forced labor within their supply chains. 

Affected Communities 

When operating within specific regions and among communities of smallholder farmers, companies are required to evaluate the repercussions of their supply demands and practices on the health, safety, and overall well-being of the community. 

Impact of the CSRD on Food and Agriculture Businesses 

Implementation of CSRD brings about a paradigm shift in reporting practices within the food and agriculture sector. Companies are compelled to move beyond superficial gestures towards sustainability, adopting a more holistic and accountable approach to reporting their impacts on the environment and society. CSRD prompts food and agriculture businesses to reevaluate their operational strategies. From sourcing raw materials to distribution, companies are compelled to embed sustainability into their core operations. This shift towards sustainable practices not only aligns with regulatory requirements but also positions businesses as responsible stewards of the environment. In the current world of information and transparency, consumers are increasingly informed and conscientious about the products they purchase. The impact of CSRD extends beyond regulatory compliance to shaping consumer perceptions. Businesses that embrace sustainability reporting are likely to resonate more positively with consumers, fostering brand loyalty and trust. 

78% of consumers agree that environmental sustainability is important, that the concept of sustainability appeals to them, and that they want to lead more sustainable lives.

Challenges and opportunity 

The integration of sustainable practices into traditional agricultural processes is a hurdle and an opportunity in the food and agriculture sector. From precision farming to water conservation, embracing sustainability in day-to-day operations requires a shift in mindset and practice. Farmers and businesses must navigate the complexities of incorporating eco-friendly methods while ensuring productivity and economic viability. 

Yet, the opportunity lies in innovation. Adopting sustainable agricultural practices not only aligns with regulatory expectations but also opens doors to efficiency, cost savings, and environmental stewardship. It’s a chance for the sector to redefine its relationship with the environment and contribute positively to global sustainability goals. 

Technology and Tools for CSRD Compliance 

Role of Digital Platforms in Sustainability Reporting 

Digital platforms play a pivotal role in streamlining sustainability reporting for the food and agriculture sector. These platforms facilitate the collection, analysis, and presentation of non-financial data, easing the burden on businesses. Automation and data visualization tools enable companies to meet reporting deadlines efficiently and enhance the overall accuracy and reliability of their disclosures. 

Implementation of Traceability and Blockchain Solutions 

Traceability and blockchain solutions offer a technological leap for ensuring transparency and accountability in the food and agriculture supply chain. These technologies enable real-time tracking of products from farm to fork, ensuring the authenticity of sustainability claims. By leveraging blockchain the sector can build trust among consumers, investors, and regulators, aligning seamlessly with the disclosure requirements of CSRD. 

Data Management and Reporting Software 

Effective data management and reporting software are instrumental in meeting the demands of CSRD. These tools streamline the collection, organization, and reporting of non-financial data, providing businesses with actionable insights. As reporting requirements evolve, having adaptable software solutions ensures that companies can navigate changing landscapes with ease. 

Discover the transformative journey of a Tobacco giant in achieving sustainability at scale. Explore how traceability solutions revolutionized their supply chain, reduced environmental impact, and set new standards for responsible practices. 

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TraceX Solutions 

TraceX farm management software, with its sustainability and carbon tools, contributes to the broader goals of sustainability reporting by providing a comprehensive and technologically advanced solution for data management, traceability, and compliance with evolving reporting standards. 

Streamlined Data Collection– TraceX simplifies the process of collecting various data points related to farm management, sustainability practices, and carbon emissions. The software ensures a systematic and organized approach to data collection, reducing the burden on businesses. 

Enhanced Traceability– The platform facilitates real-time traceability of products from the farm to the consumer. This feature aligns with the broader industry trend of utilizing traceability solutions to ensure transparency and authenticity in the supply chain, meeting the expectations set by sustainability reporting frameworks. 

Carbon Footprint Measurement– The sustainability tools include features for measuring and managing carbon footprints associated with agricultural activities. This capability aligns with the increasing emphasis on carbon reporting within sustainability frameworks and regulations. 

Blockchain powered Solutions– Blockchain’s decentralized and tamper-resistant nature ensures the integrity of data, providing stakeholders with verifiable information. This aligns with the objective of building trust among consumers, investors, and regulators, as emphasized by sustainability reporting standards like the CSRD. 

Reporting– The reporting tools can be tailored to meet the evolving requirements of sustainability reporting standards. As regulations and disclosure expectations change, the software’s adaptability ensures that companies using it can easily adjust to new reporting landscapes. 

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Outlook for the Future 

The future holds the promise of evolving sustainability reporting standards. With the anticipated changes may include increased granularity in reporting, enhanced focus on specific environmental and social indicators, and a more globally aligned framework. Staying ahead of these changes will be crucial for the food and agriculture sector to maintain compliance and continue building a reputation as responsible contributors to sustainable development. 

Continuous Improvement and Evolution of CSRD in the Sector 

The evolution of CSRD within the food and agriculture sector is an ongoing journey. Continuous improvement is key, with businesses expected to adapt and refine their sustainability practices. As technology advances and global awareness grows, the sector has an opportunity to lead the way in shaping the narrative of corporate sustainability. Embracing this evolution ensures that the sector remains not just compliant but at the forefront of positive change in the years to come. 

Conclusion 

Intersection of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) with the food and agriculture sector signifies a pivotal moment in the evolution of sustainable practices. As businesses grapple with the challenges of meeting rigorous reporting standards and integrating eco-friendly methodologies into traditional processes, they simultaneously unlock a realm of opportunities. The journey involves not only compliance but a strategic shift towards responsible stewardship, innovation, and positive impact. 

Technology emerges as a beacon, offering digital platforms, traceability solutions, and robust data management tools that not only streamline compliance with CSRD but also foster transparency and trust throughout the supply chain. The continuous evolution of sustainability reporting standards is not just a regulatory necessity; it is a dynamic process that demands adaptability and foresight from businesses. 

Looking ahead, the future promises changes in reporting standards, with an anticipated focus on granular details and a more globally aligned framework. The food and agriculture sector, in its role as a custodian of the environment, has the opportunity to lead the charge in shaping the narrative of corporate sustainability. By embracing this evolution and committing to continuous improvement, businesses can not only navigate regulatory landscapes but also spearhead positive change, positioning themselves as catalysts for a more sustainable and resilient future. As the curtain falls on this exploration, the stage is set for a harmonious symphony where responsible practices harmonize with regulatory compliance, creating a transformative narrative for the food and agriculture sector in the years to come. 

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