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    Consumer Brands Take to the Cornfields: 3 Takeaways on Making Sourcing More Sustainable

    November 16, 2023

    As more and more companies with agriculture in their supply chains look to deal with their Scope 3 emissions and achieve sustainability goals, gaining an understanding of how the supply chain really works is advantageous. Last October, we brought together 30 people from across the ag supply chain – from major consumer goods companies across the CPG and restaurant industries to longstanding agribusinesses – to get a first-hand look at what it takes to grow corn and learn how to make the process more sustainable.


    Our stops took us out to a couple of farms, which brought home the understanding that farming is not a “one-size-fits all” profession, even between farms in the same county or region. One farmer we visited mentioned that they've loved variable rate applications as a means to optimize their inputs. It's been a huge improvement for their operation. Another farmer just 30 minutes away said that variable rate applications weren’t as good for them and that keeping it simple helped their profitability. In both cases, these farmers can participate in our sustainable crop programs because we can quantify the benefits of how they manage differently and provide more optionality and flexibility. We believe it is a real benefit to meet farmers where they're at, where their land's at, and continue to generate benefits for all groups along the supply chain.

    Then we took a tour of the local facility of Consolidated Grain & Barge Co. (CGB), one of the country’s most respected commercial grain companies, to gain an understanding of the role between farmers and their agribusiness customers.

    “Farmers have a lot of demands on their time, and on their acres,” said Scott Strickland, Director of Sustainability at CGB. “For us at CGB, it’s about continuing to bring solutions that are viable for our customers. Benefiting them either agronomically through practice changes or financially in the markets they serve.” CGB is currently working with Indigo Ag’s Market+ Source sustainable crop program to source more sustainable grains for major food and beverage companies. CGB works closely with farmers to understand the unique needs in each field and on each farm.

    “The problems farmers face may be different in different places. The solutions being used may be different in different places,” Scott said. “The long-term benefits of regenerative practices are what has continued to create that adoption. Getting practice adoption to accelerate takes targeted incentives to facilitate, reach and maintain desired outcomes.”

    In order to quantify what happens on the farm, the Scope 3 guidance and policy landscape is continually evolving, so it's critical that we have policy and science leaders at our organization to help us stay attuned to that. We're lucky to have some of the best experts around who can help both the internal Indigo team and our partners stay ahead in this rapidly moving market. Even at a field day like this, we include our policy and science team to both learn and educate others, ensuring that our sustainability solution is policy aligned, policy compliant, and science forward.

    After two days of discussion and learning, here are some takeaways from the experience.

    1. Partnering with agribusinesses trusted by farmers is key in building durable, sustainable solutions at scale for food and beverage companies.
      CGB has been servicing some of the country’s most recognizable brands for over 50 years. The grain leader has also been serving the farming community for that same amount of time – working directly with them to provide a market for the sale of their crops.
    2. The implementation of regenerative farming requires a flexible approach, and farmer profitability is the driver of progress.
      There is no one-size-fits-all solution for farmers to adopt sustainable practices. Not all fields within the same farm are fit to be managed the same way, and soil type and needs differ by location. Understanding how soil health practices interact with profitability sets up the farmer, agribusiness, and consumer goods company to work together in a symbiotic way.
    3. Staying on top of and adhering to evolving sustainability standards is essential to making claimable Scope 3 impact in the ag supply chain.
      As an innovative thought leader in the policy and sustainability landscape, Indigo Ag works directly with regulatory organizations and protocols to enable measurable and impactful Scope 3 solutions for food and beverage companies throughout their value chain.

    Indigo aims to make agriculture more sustainable for our future, and Scope 3 solutions are a key piece of that puzzle. We can help enable companies who are looking for regeneratively-grown crops to drive meaningful outcomes in their supply chains. There are many other tools or “puzzle pieces” that we can also leverage, built on the same technology, to encourage the adoption of sustainable agriculture. By having the multiple pieces of the puzzle all sit under one roof at Indigo, we're able to better serve farmers, and as a result, continue to drive desired outcomes across the entire value chain.