Measuring sustainability in food supply chains : a case study of identifying and selecting relevant sustainability metrics

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Title: Measuring sustainability in food supply chains : a case study of identifying and selecting relevant sustainability metrics
Author: Viloma, Veera
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Maatalous-metsätieteellinen tiedekunta
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry
Helsingfors universitet, Agrikultur- och forstvetenskapliga fakulteten
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2020
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Degree program: Elintarviketalouden ja kulutuksen maisteriohjelma
Master's Programme in Food Economy and Consumption
Magisterprogrammet i livsmedelsekonomi och konsumtion
Specialisation: Elintarviketalous
Food Economy
Abstract: Sustainable supply chain management in the food industry has become not only an emerging trend but also a necessity in the light of social and environmental demands. Measuring the development of the degrees of sustainability in supply chains is important to depict the impacts of procurement activities, but organizations have faced difficulties in selecting metrics and objectives. The research objective is to provide an overview of sustainable supply chain measurement practices and implications in the food sector and propose applicable metrics for a case company. Principles of sustainable food supply chain management and assumptions of agency theory and institutional theory explain why specific metrics are used in the food industry. They also highlight challenges in measurement. Aligning trends, possibilities, and challenges in sustainable supply chain measurement are then shown to guide the selection of sustainability metrics. The study highlights trends in sustainability measurement in the food industry and provides an overview of the role of triple bottom line sustainability before highlighting practical challenges in supply chain measurement with regard to sustainability. The data collection and content analysis of corporate sustainability reports and industry-specific case studies provide an overview of sustainable supply chain metrics and emerging trends in measurement. Furthermore, a survey was conducted in cooperation with the focal company to evaluate the applicability of selected metrics to the case company. This joint approach, the content analysis and application to the case company were used to guide the development of a new group of sustainability metrics for the case company. The overall analysis results suggest eight sustainability metrics for the case company. The results show that organizational strategy, current practices, and assumptions of sustainability affect what metrics are considered applicable. Therefore, results must be evaluated critically to ensure long-term sustainability in supply chains. From a broader industry perspective, the results sug-gest that high-quality data and keeping track of relevant sustainability-measurement trends are useful for future strategy purposes. All in all, the analysis indicates that sustainable supply chain measurement in the food industry has taken a leap toward more sustainable practices during the past decade.
Subject: Sustainable Supply Chain Measurement
Sustainable Supply Chain Management
Sustainable food system

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