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Sustainability's a term that's a bit like 'beauty' - everyone knows what it is, but pinning down exactly what it is, is often in the eye of the beholder.

However, NZ agribusiness better start getting a better grip on the actuality of sustainability, or risk being marginalised by overseas customers and consumers according to KPMG.

In a recent agribusiness green paper KPMG lays out the current and emerging environment in our markets on the vexed issue of sustainability, with a second paper to focus on the practicalities of implementing such a supply chain approach.

The report contends that while the term has broad meaning, in essence it is about meeting the needs of today, without adversely impacting on the needs of tomorrow, and in balancing environmental, social and economic concerns in doing so.

It is a whole life cycle approach involving the management of raw materials and services from suppliers to manufacturers and service providers, to the customer and BACK (my emphasis).

For agribusinesses, there are a large number of sustainability supply chain issues to consider. They include:
• Water use
• Genetic modification
• Packaging and labeling
• Profitability
• Water pollution
• Biodiversity
• Food safety
• Animal welfare
• Waste treatment and disposal
• Product freshness, quality and integrity
• Nutrition
• Ongoing supply
• Methane and transport emissions
• Healthy, balanced diets

In turn, these key issues can be grouped into the three key steps in the agribusiness chain.

1. On-farm
2. Processing/manufacturing, and
3. End consumer engagement

It is probably worth noting, that compared to many of our national competitors we're not too bad on the sustainability front.

However, as a country that attempts to wear a 100% Pure label (but don't look too closely under the covers), we'd better be careful not be further accused of 'green washing'.

No one can say we haven't been warned.

Sustainability's like 'beauty' - go on, try and define it

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