Focusing on driving transformation and measuring impact – Part 2

15th June 2022

Interview with Brian Nash

Header background picture


SAI Platform is the hub, the nexus. Without it, the food and beverage industry would still be several years behind in our progress. 

Section background picture

***This interview is an extract from the SAI Platform Annual Report 2021. To find out more about the Crops Working Group, go to the Annual Report 2021***

Brian Nash is Co-Chair of the Crops Working Group and Senior Director of Corporate Sustainability for Ingredion Incorporated. 

The Crops Working Group has had an interesting year, Brian. Could you give me an overview of what was achieved? 

Sure. It’s been an exciting time for us. We’ve seen a marked evolution in member needs and we’ve responded accordingly. In particular, the Projects, Partnership and Innovation work streams we put together in 2020 really took off in 2021.  

How does that translate into action? 

We did the scoping work in 2020 and 2021 was about getting down and doing the work. We’re already starting to see progress.   

How has Spotlight progressed?

Spotlight is important to us because it helps give us a picture of what’s really happening out there, which shapes not just the projects we kick off but also the overall strategy for the Crops Working Group. We had a lot of discussion around why people are or aren’t using it and what they want to get out of it and then recommended updates that were completed in 2021. It’s a great tool! 

The projects that the Crops Working Group scoped in 2021 are more ambitious than in previous years. Why is that? 

The CIAT Climate Assessments and Climate Resilience projects are ambitious, yes. They respond to companies adopting more science-based targets and having Scope 3 targets that are relevant to their supply chains. Our members really need to demonstrate that they’re measuring impact and driving progress now and we’re meeting those needs. The lessons that we’re learning will help shape future, equally ambitious, projects. 

How is the mood of members in general? 

It’s one of excitement and a touch of awe. But one of the great things about the Crops Working Group is we can break things down into manageable pieces. Not every member has to work in every workstream and on every project. We can start chipping away at a monumental task together. That’s where the enthusiasm comes from. 

Personally, I feel we’re in uncharted water and that comes up in some of the conversations that we have. There’s not a lot of benchmarking out there to look at. But we’re not embarking on an individual journey. We are a group making progress and that’s the comfortable part. And we know we’re not wasting our time. 

How about the big push with regenerative agriculture this year? 

Regenerative agriculture feels like the next step after the FSA. We’re getting down to driving the impacts we all hoped would come out of our sustainable agriculture efforts. 

The FSA shows that general practices are sustainable, that people are doing the right things. Regenerative agriculture says this is what will contribute to factors like better soil quality. It puts something quantifiable on top of the theory. And it’s definitely the next step.  

The good thing is that we have a pool of growers who have been working with the FSA and we have a rapport with them that makes it easier to encourage regenerative agriculture. Ingredion is definitely finding that growers are more trusting. 

The Crops and Dairy Working Groups and ERBS have come together on deforestation. What’s it like to work across groups and with other co-chairs and members? 

It’s a really interesting space and one that for me personally is fun.  

Back in 2020, we talked about better connectivity between groups and it’s now happening. It makes sense because, for example, in dairy or beef, people are buying feed made from crops supplied by members of the Crops Working Group. We’re grasping the opportunity presented by the fact that supply chains are connected and seeing how we can capitalise on it. 

Ingredion has been a member of SAI Platform since 2014. How would you characterise SAI Platform’s achievements at 20? 

It’s been transformative. I’ll say this, before we joined SAI Platform, Ingredion was talking to customers who all wanted us to follow their own sustainable agriculture programme and we made no progress because we were trying to conform to the requirements of eight or nine companies. 

Then we realised that they were all members of SAI Platform so we joined and decided the FSA would be our default. In that first year we did around 225,000 metric tons of sustainable crops. Last year, we did over a third of our entire supply. That’s probably close to 4 million metric tons.  

SAI Platform is the hub, the nexus. Without it, the food and beverage industry would still be several years behind in our progress.