Food industry tech collaboration for supply chain decarbonisation
BRC Mondra Coalition brings together Industry, Government and NGOs, to harmonise product carbon footprinting and accelerate decarbonisation.
A Coalition of the UK’s leading food companies, in consultation with WRAP, IGD and WWF-UK has been established to agree the rules around product footprinting, and roll out a single, interconnected technology platform across hundreds of supply chains to enable collaborative action and accelerate the Net Zero transition. Participating food businesses include the retailers Tesco, M&S, Co-op, Ocado Retail and ASDA, in addition to Sainsbury’s which is piloting the system. They are joined by major brands including Starbucks and Nando’s and suppliers Avara, Samworth Brothers, Greencore and Bakkavor - representing a major portion of the UK food and beverage market.
With Retailers and brand owners committing to Net Zero carbon emissions by 2040 (as per the BRC Net Zero Roadmap), the major challenge remains indirect (Scope 3) emissions that occur in their value chains. The two hurdles in measuring and managing Scope 3 are a lack of robust environmental data from supply chains and a clear set of rules to standardise the way that product level footprinting is conducted across the chain.
The BRC Mondra Coalition has been set up to tackle both challenges head-on, leveraging related initiatives led by WRAP, IGD and WWF-UK to define the ruleset for product Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), from ‘farm to fork’.
In 2023, Tesco, M&S, Co-op, Ocado Retail, ASDA and other major brand owners including Starbucks and Nando’s are rolling out Mondra’s automated LCA platform to enable rigorous product footprinting at scale, and the means for suppliers across the value chain to share environmental data and collaborate to Net Zero with a coherent set of common tools. Key learnings from this industry-led initiative are being shared with DEFRA’s Food Data Transparency Partnership (FDTP), to support the shaping of inbound policy in this space. Recommendation papers into Government on Scope 3 reporting and environmental product labelling are planned for later this year.
BRC-Mondra Coalition workshop
Recent years have seen a proliferation of environmental accounting methods in food, causing inconsistent carbon reporting across the sector and undermining decarbonisation efforts across the sector.
The Coalition is coming together, to enable robust and consistent product footprinting for all actors across the value chain. By establishing a level playing field, underpinned by a single set of rules, actors can achieve greater confidence in their product declarations and build environmental performance into their product and category plans.
Mondra’s AI-driven technology will provide the means for brand owners including Retailers and FMCG to run LCAs on thousands of products in a matter of hours, prioritise action, and engage their suppliers in a meaningful way to reduce impacts. Once invited to the platform, suppliers can refine the data that the brand owner relies on, whilst protecting intellectual property, and unlock product development tools that allow them to model composition and sourcing scenarios that drive environmental performance improvement.
Mondra integrates with existing commercial retailer systems, notably those provided by global tech giant, Oracle, ensuring a seamless relationship between business operations and carbon accounting. Paul Woodward, founder and head of Oracle’s retail private label and sustainability solutions, is leading Oracle’s strategy and innovations effort in support of the Coalition’s product footprinting and Scope 3 agenda.
On value-chain farmer improvement incentivisation.
Following Innovate UK funded pilots in 2022, the BRC convened the industry to showcase the results. The Coalition signatories have been growing in number ever since, with Tesco, M&S, Sainsbury’s, Co-op, Ocado Retail, Starbucks and Nando’s all participating.
"We’re delighted to be a part of the BRC Mondra Coalition that brings together the food industry to tackle the challenge of consistent carbon reporting across the value chain. By working together in a pre-competitive way to develop product level sustainability data, we can accelerate decarbonisation, and help meet our goal of reaching Net Zero across our whole footprint by 2050."
Group Quality, Technical and Sustainability Director, Tesco
"We are excited to be part of the Mondra BRC coalition because it's bringing together industry, government and important NGO partners to address the single biggest challenge that we have in terms of carbon reduction – that of tackling Scope Three GHG emissions."
Head of Sustainability, M&S
"What we really see as a game changer about this approach is that we all share supply chains and collecting data from these networks is a big challenge for our suppliers and we worry about the burden that this can bring. Working in collaboration and cooperatively with multiple retailers makes a huge amount of sense."
Senior Environmental Manager, Coop
"We’re committed to becoming Net Zero in our Scope 3 Greenhouse Gas emissions by 2050 (and in own operations by 2035). We are excited to be involved with the BRC Mondra Coalition, trialling its new technology platform to measure and reduce the emissions from producing the goods that we sell. Working collaboratively is key to achieving meaningful change including being able to offer customers more sustainable choices."
Director of Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability, Sainsbury’s
The Coalition also includes major suppliers to the UK food industry, with broad representation across all major food categories. Leading the way in the poultry category is Avara Foods, one of the UK’s largest suppliers to grocery retailers and food service:
"Avara is delighted to be part of the BRC Mondra coalition as taking our carbon footprint data to a product level, whether that's a product for a retailer or for food service is a huge step forward in accuracy from where we are today. This greater level of detail creates the opportunity to work with our customers on benchmarking our performance and identifying significant reductions in line with our shared science based targets and net zero commitment."
Sustainability and Communications Director, Avara Foods
Samworth Brothers, an active participant in the trials of 2022, are also part of the Coalition, intent on driving the agenda for better environmental data to support business decisions:
"This has the potential to be a game changer – manufacturers and retailers are working together to figure out how we can start to change the food system and work collaboratively on addressing our collective scope 3 carbon footprints, this gives us the tools we need to start embedding this thinking into everyday processes and making real change."
Responsible Business Director, Samworth Brothers
Understanding agricultural data
One discrete workstream in the Coalition programme called ‘Farm Data Done Better’ (FDDB) is focussed on the best routes to incorporate farm-stage carbon data for product footprints. FDDB is led by sustainability advisors 3Keel on behalf of the Coalition, with practical support from Avara and other members, to engage the wider UK agricultural sector and develop recommendations for consistent treatment of farm data across supply chains.
"GHG modelling of food systems has been steadily improving, but farm emissions remain the most complex area, as well as the largest share of the footprint. For these reasons, 3Keel's work here with the BRC Coalition partners is focused on understanding the landscape of farm data, and how the best available approaches can be incorporated onto the Mondra platform."
FDDB workstream is led by 3 Keel’s Managing Director
The BRC Mondra Coalition continues to onboard new industry participants from across the food value chain, whilst continuing the push to bring relevant industry bodies and farm level data solution providers together, under a unified vision for product level data sharing.
Mondra: Product footprinting and supply chain decarbonisation SaaS platform. Leverages AI-technologies to create digital twins of food supply chains and provide the tools to engage supply chain actors to collaborate to Net Zero.
British Retail Consortium (BRC): trade association for all UK retailers, promoting the story of retail, shaping debates and influencing the issues that matter to the industry. Supporting the Coalition by convening the industry to address the Scope 3 challenge collaboratively.
Head of Communications, BRC