Natural, renewable wealth results from the sensitive planting, nurturing and harvesting of products from land and water. Those who traditionally earned their living from the land and sea understood the need for sustainable production but, as agriculture, fishing and plantations have become increasingly industrialised, short-term goals have sometimes predominated over long-term good sense.
Both on the side of producers and on the side of consumers, as well as among distributors and industrial users of agricultural, fishery and plantation produce, there is an increasing consciousness of the importance of sustainability. Furthermore, awareness of climate change has focused attention on the environmental impact of land-based production.
The response has been cross-industry efforts to promote and monitor sustainable production. For example, both producers and major clients of the palm oil industry - which has been subject to criticism for destruction of forests and natural habitats - have joined forces to promote sustainable palm oil, most notably through the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
Effective moves towards sustainability - and the ability to measure it - depend on the implementation of standards. These standards provide the rules that guide producers and set the basis for certifying that the sustainability objectives are being followed - in other words “sustainability compliance”. Standards for sustainability are typically much broader that standards that focus on a single topic (such as food safety).
Simply preparing the documentation to establish compliance with such standards is a significant amount of work for producers, even more so if they have a large-scale operation with many sites. Staff have to be trained to operate in accordance with the standard, data has to be collected daily to measure the rules are being followed and methods need to be established to verify continued compliance. Furthermore, producers have to be ready to deal with regular - or even surprise - audits of their operations.
FoodReg is able to help, through information technology, with all elements of the work to originally establish compliance with the standards and later to ensure continued compliance. Computerised tools from FoodReg not only provide a method of storing documentation, and retrieving it when necessary, but can provide an automated assessment of compliance and gather the information together for display to management or auditors. Operational measurements can automatically indicate when any deviations occur from the standards.
Furthermore, utilising its traceability technology and expertise, FoodReg can deliver information about sustainability compliance down the supply chain, enabling a later purchaser of the produce, or its derivatives, to look up and do an individual check to see that they really are buying sustainable produce.