Blog 17.01.19

Which Soft-Commodities Traders Tell Their Sustainability Stories Best?

Soy: coming to a vegan restaurant or animal feed lot near you soon

Everyone’s a publisher now.

Good story telling is good for business: it reassures customers, attracts and retains top talent, and boosts your reputation with investors, consumers and civil society.

It’s especially important in getting the best return on your investment in sustainability. But while many companies have good sustainability stories to tell, they often tell them rather badly. There’s something about the subject and its mix of science, ethics and doing-good that sometimes befuddles corporate story tellers. The results can be sleep-inducing data-heavy tomes, or assorted case studies that lack a clear connection to business strategy.

Leading habits

Two related elements separate leading story tellers from the laggards. The first is having a good sustainability story to tell. And then telling it well.

We’ve begun bench marking how companies combine both elements.  We’ve started with the food and ag sectors (one of our specialisms) and gone to the heart of the supply chain: soft-commodities traders. These companies must deal with the full range of issues, from climate change and deforestation to community rights and forced labour.

Our Approach

We selected 10 top soft-commodities traders who are members of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development or the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform. As members, these companies are committed to advancing sustainable business practices and should have good stories to tell.

The alphabetical list is: ADM, Barry Callebaut, Bunge, Cargill, Glencore, Golden Agri-Resources, Louis Dreyfus, Olam, SUCDEN, Wilmar.

We analysed the sustainability content on each company’s global website to find out if it had a good sustainability story to tell. Then we considered how well it told its story, scoring it in four categories: messaging, liveliness, use of different media, and effectiveness of social media. Then we ranked them.

The results are telling. We will reveal the ranking shortly when we publish the full report. Meanwhile we’re contacting each company to make sure we have judged them fairly.

To find out more about the report – Susty Story Ranking: Which Soft-Commodities Traders Tell Their Story Best? – please contact Francesca Ward (

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