Over the last three decades, a growing number of voluntary sustainability standards (VSSs) have emerged to enhance environmental conservation and improve the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers across different sectors, including agriculture, forestry, mining and fisheries.
There are now over 400 VSSs operating across the planet. These include Organic Certification, Fairtrade International and Forest Stewardship Council to name a few.
VSSs are norms that define a set of requirements for producing and selling products in a more sustainable manner concerning issues such worker health and safety measures, soil conservation and minimum price paid to farmers. They also provide guidelines for labeling VSS-compliant products in business-to-business transactions and in end-consumer markets. By doing so, they provide manufacturers and retailers with information about the origin and sourcing conditions of the product. They also provide consumers with some assurance that purchasing VSS-compliant products can result in more sustainable outcomes for communities, natural environments and economies.
We examine the market performance of commodities that comply with voluntary sustainability standards to understand the forces and factors influencing their potential market expansion or contraction.
We analyze commodities to learn about sustainable production and consumption patterns and their market performance.
The Sustainable Commodities Marketplace Series examines the market performance of VSS operating in various commodities looking at consumption and production trends, and price dynamics. Each series focuses on a different overarching theme providing market updates for chosen commodities.
Production of voluntary sustainability standard (VSS) sugar has been on the rise in the past two decades. About 90 per cent of VSS-compliant sugarcane comes from Latin America, specifically Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Paraguay, with substantial volumes also deriving from Australia, India and Malawi.
The cocoa sector provides a livelihood for up to 50 million people, primarily in developing countries, as they manually transform cocoa beans into chocolate liquor (i.e., pure cocoa mass), butter or powder for use in cosmetics, chocolate and other edibles.
Voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) emerged in the coffee sector over 30 years ago, with non-governmental organizations, private sector actors and other industry stakeholders looking to provide roasters, retailers and consumers with the ability to distinguish between conventionally produced coffee and its more sustainable coffee equivalent.