• Sustainable Commodities

    Commodities such as palm oil, cocoa, soy and timber have become key inputs to the global economy, but their production is often associated with serious environmental and ethical issues. Our analysis and research shines a light on the issues, and we help organisations to develop, implement and communicate their sustainable sourcing commitments.

Sustainable Commodities


Anna Kitulagoda

Head of Commodity Supply Chains

Cheap and readily available ‘wonder ingredients’ like soy, palm oil, and pulp have enabled product innovation and the expansion of livestock systems globally. But production of these commodities is too often associated with deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions and, in some cases, with forced and child labour.

The process of understanding, tracking, quantifying and managing the risks within commodity sourcing is complex, with opaque supply chains and a proliferation of certification standards purporting to ensure sustainable supply.

We believe that the negative impacts of commodity production are not inevitable, and that positive steps can be taken to improve the wellbeing of the ecosystems and communities where they are produced. We work with food sector companies, NGOs and governments to research, collaborate, manage data, benchmark standards, and develop and implement practical and cost-effective strategies for sustainable sourcing.

Driving supply chain action

Since 2017, 3Keel has pioneered new efficient and robust ways to engage and support supply chain transformation. Our processes and systems have developed to enable large scale corporate and sector supply chain mapping and analysis through direct engagement with thousands of food and non-food companies globally. Key to this has been our collective approach working with multiple businesses to collect and report information from common – as well as unique – suppliers. Our practices enable:

• Harmonisation of processes across businesses collecting information
• Expertise to support supply chains identify and provide the correct data
• Simplicity in making sense of the issues and opportunities across a broad supply base
• Understanding of relative performance of commercial categories and product groups
• Identification of sector challenges in delivering sustainable commodities
• Efficiency in supplier reporting, thereby reducing their time in responding to multiple requests
• Cost effectiveness is sharing expertise and resources across multiple businesses

Each year we present our findings in an anonymised report and webinar to aid wider sector transformation. This helps us play our role in accelerating the transition to a world where sustainable commodities are the norm.

Delivering economy and regional risk analysis

3Keel conducts large scale risk assessments both at a country level by assessing imports and regional production. Our unique method of data analysis reveals:

• Quantity of a given commodity within imports or a supply chain
• Provenance of the commodity, by going down the supply chain to a country of origin
• Land footprint of the commodity, based on the yield and reported harvests in the country of origin
• Greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of the commodity, using country-specific data.
• Social and deforestation risk pertaining to a commodity, based on human rights and deforestation data specific to the country of origin.

We have worked extensively with WWF on assessing country-level deforestation from imports, which has culminated in the ‘Risky Business’ report series. Risky Business reports have been commissioned by WWF in the UK, France, Belgium, Denmark and Switzerland. The findings generated have been highly influential in both policy development, such as informing the new commodity due diligence legislation in the UK, and consumer awareness, with findings being reported across all major UK news outlets.

This approach can also be applied at the corporate level where supply chain information may be unavailable, or a broader lens is needed to align with a high level commodity strategy.

Leveraging change through cross-sector collaboration

We believe that real change in complex commodity supply chains requires collaboration across the sector. We facilitate a number of cross-sector collaborations and coalitions to leverage and accelerate positive change across a number of key commodities including cocoa, palm oil, and soy.

Beyond these collaborations, 3Keel also convenes and acts as the representative for the Retail Soy Group to directly challenge and advocate for practices that will ultimately make sustainable soy the norm. This work has led to, amongst other things, coordinating high level industry responses to challenges facing the Amazon and encouraging bold action to level the playing field from a regulatory perspective in the UK.

3Keel is also part of a consortium of ten leading industry and research organisations that is developing ForestMind, an innovative, satellite-enabled supply chain deforestation monitoring service. Our first focus is to enable commodity sourcing organisations to understand and act on deforestation risks in their supply chains, funded by a two-year grant from the European Space Agency.

Researching and strategy creation on social and environmental issues within supply chains

3Keel conducts a wide range of bespoke research and analysis on sustainable commodities for many clients. In the past this has included:

• Analysing the effectiveness of different sustainability standards for ISEAL, as well as supporting the development of metrics for monitoring sustainability.
• Conducting on-the-ground research for Oxfam to determine which producer business models drive more equitable outcomes.
• A major global retailer to set targets and a 2030 roadmap towards achieving a flexitarian transition within UK.
• Benchmarking certification schemes, and developing sustainability criteria for corporate clients.
• An analysis of the positive and negative social, environmental and economic impacts of palm oil, on behalf of the European Commission

“Waitrose has worked with 3Keel for a number of years across a range of our key raw materials. Their expert advice, support, and friendly, customer-centric way of working have been hugely valuable, helping us to both sharpen our strategy and to have the trusted data we need to drive progress towards our goals”
Sam Lee-Gammage, Waitrose

“The WWF Risky Business report has had a big impact in Denmark. It has informed WWF’s engagement with politicians and policy makers on deforestation, as well as our conversations with Danish commodity importers and consumers. We would highly recommend working with 3Keel.”
Sofie Tind Nielsen, WWF

“I am always really impressed with the quality of your work and the metrics report was another good example of that. It is so nice to read reports that are well-written, substantive and visually appealing. Thank you!”
Patrick Mallet, ISEAL Alliance

Certification across soy supply chains
Want to know more about our sustainable commodities practice area?

Contact Will Schreiber for more information. Or phone our office +44 (0)1865 236500 and speak to one of our colleagues.

Sustainable Commodities projects and news

children eating a healthy bean-based mealECI

Carbon Accounting Alliance launches

Calls for sector standardisation and regulation to support transition to net zero.
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