Sustainable Food Trade Association Reporting Process

SFTA Member Organic Valley's Headquarters

Why reporting is important

Companies are looking strategically at how environmental, social, and economic performance can have a direct impact on the bottom line. Changing markets, regulatory pressure, and stakeholder influence are driving a change in the way business leaders look at the performance of their business.

The often-used phrase, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure” is especially true when evaluating your company’s sustainability performance. Without a mechanism to set sustainability benchmarks it is incredibly difficult to evaluate and prioritize decisions, pursue innovation, and effectively respond to stakeholder requests and expectations. Effective metrics can help determine areas within your business operations that need attention. Metrics also provide a framework to measure success and improvement.

SFTA Commitment to reporting

The SFTA Sustainability Snapshot is designed to make reporting to SFTA, once a year, easy and convenient. It is the only required annual reporting for members. The quantitative data collected with the Snapshot is aggregated and used to demonstrate individual company, as well as collective impact. However, SFTA welcomes additional reports, case studies, and/or reports that are written for other organizations, vendors or customers. SFTA uses all the submitted information to promote achievements of its members as sustainable business operations.

There are 40 SFTA Metrics in the on-line SFTA Sustainability Snapshot. The questions include:

  • 4 “Normalization” Factors
  • 25 Benchmarking Metrics
  • 3 Thought Leadership Questions
  • 4 Current Industry Issues Questions
  • 4 SFTA Services Questions (to improve what we do for you!)

The quantitative questions will allow SFTA to provide benchmark comparisons, as well as a customized analysis of your company’s progress. Join the SFTA member community for access to the SFTA Sustainability Snapshot, and additional SFTA’s membership benefits (provide links to benefits and membership).

History of the Metrics

The Sustainable Food Trade Association members collaboratively developed a set of sustainability metrics designed for the organic trade and agriculture sector in 2008 that were revised in 2012 and again in 2014. SFTA members outlined 11 specific areas of focus for the organic industry called the Declaration of Sustainability.

These 11 areas include: Organic and Land Use, Distribution, Waste, Water, Energy, Climate Change, Packaging, Animal Care, Labor, Education and Governance. Based upon these, the comprehensive set of SFTA metrics contain 200 questions and provide a quantitative and qualitative look at business operations.

The SFTA metrics were developed through extensive research, industry and expert stakeholder review. SFTA looked at alignment with widely accepted reporting frameworks (i.e., Global Reporting Initiative, EPA, Greenhouse Gas Protocol, etc.), the most commonly reported on metrics in the food industry (e.g., researching existing reports within the industry), and contacted content experts in each of the 11 areas for comments and edits.

The SFTA Full Metrics and Report Template are available as an open source set of metrics designed for the organic food industry and provide a framework to develop sustainable business operation. The goal of the public release of the metrics was to bring optimization and harmonization of metrics in analyzing and reporting sustainability impacts in the industry. The Full Metrics and Report Template remain a valuable tool and reference document.

After these metrics were identified, in 2014 SFTA entered into a partnership with B Lab, to host a shorter version of the SFTA metrics as a part of B Lab’s Quick Impact Assessment. This report became one of the types of reports that SFTA members could submit annually. In early 2020, B Lab announced that they were no longer offering customized impact assessments, so SFTA decided to take its Sustainability Snapshot in-house!

As of June 2020, after initially being hosted on B Lab’s powerful online sustainability database (thank you, B Lab!), the SFTA Metrics Snapshot graduated to being managed online by SFTA. SFTA is thrilled to be able to offer its self-managed Sustainability Snapshot for easier member access and reporting.

Download the Full Sustainable Food Trade Association Metrics: