INTERNATIONAL FOOD AND AGRIBUSINESS MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION
Over the past 10 years, calls to transform the global food system have increased. Sustainability, assessed through ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) factors, is at the core of many of these conversations. However, sustainability remains a challenge for agri-food companies. The definition of sustainability continues to evolve and expand, leading to shifting goalposts. Consumers expect sustainably produced food, but most are not willing or able to pay extra for it. Approx. 70–90+% of a food product’s footprint occurs inside the farmgate, outside of the company’s direct control. Improving farm-level sustainability requires investment and changes in practices that add upfront costs and management complexity. Further complicating the situation, the global food system plays multiple roles: it’s a source of nutrition, an engine of economic development, a foundation of national and global security, and the largest user of natural resources. This leads to competing objectives and vastly different opinions about what a sustainable food system should look like – with some experts calling for a continued focus on productivity, efficient use of resources on the farm, and reductions in waste along the supply chain, while others call for a fundamental change in human diets including reducing or eliminating meat and dairy consumption.
In this complex, dynamic, and ambiguous world, agri-food companies (and some countries) have adopted different approaches to sustainability. Shelman and McLoughlin (2020) introduced one qualitative framework that classifies strategies based on two dimensions: (i) the level of information exchange along the supply chain (e.g., market information on customer needs and consumer demands regarding sustainability in its broadest sense going upstream to farmers, and information on how a product is produced going downstream to consumers and investors) and (ii) financial incentives (e.g., short-term incentives such as price premiums and preferential loan rates, and longer-term incentives such as multi-year contracts, cost-plus pricing contracts, and investment capital). Four strategies or “pathways” to a sustainable food system were identified (see figure on the next page):
Note that all quadrants are potentially viable strategies, and that the framework is agnostic regarding the desirability of the four strategies.
Areas of Focus
This notice serves as an open call for papers that demonstrate how adopting a strategy based on sustainability/ESG in food and agribusiness leads to enhanced financial performance and/or other desirable outcomes for a company (or country). Three types of contributions are being welcomed:
Academic articles will be reviewed by the IFAMR Managing Editors and undergo the usual process of double-blind peer review. Opinion pieces and business caselets will be reviewed by the guest editors for succinctness, clarity, and relevance to the business community. The IFAMR will publish a Special Issue containing this collection in conjunction with IFAMA 2024 World Conference in Almería, Spain on 19–20 June, 2024. A special session is planned during the conference on this topic, that will be used to drive many of the discussions. It will also coincide with the release of this Special Issue.
Both academic and commercial works are welcome. Commercial submissions will be critically assessed for neutrality and not allowed as a marketing platform. Documented real-world examples of ESG value creation in agriculture are highly valued.
If you would like feedback before submitting the full submission, send an extended abstract to: Mary Shelman: email@example.com before December 15, 2023. Otherwise, please follow the Submission Guidelines below and submit it via the IFAMR portal by January 30, 2024.
Special Issue Timeline
15 December, 2023
Optional feedback on topic submit extended abstracts
30 January, 2024
Deadline for submitting research articles, caselets, opinion pieces
06 March, 2024
20 June, 2024
Special Issue Publication
The Special Issue is expected to be published 20-June 2024.
Mary Shelman and Damien McLoughlin, The Unanticipated Promise of Sustainable Agricultural Supply Chains. 2020. International Journal of Food System Dynamics.