By mid-September, Siegal said the beta version of the Stewardship Index metrics will available on the group’s website.
“The idea is that the Sustainability Consortium is a bigger look at a number of sectors in addition to fresh food and the plan is that the Stewardship Index would be able to feed directly into the food and beverage component of what the Sustainability Consortium is working towards.”
Siegal said the Stewardship Index is focused on the development and adoption of metrics, forging consensus on what is in the metric and also how the metrics are adopted by the entire supply chain.
In 2010, the Stewardship Index had 38 growers participating in pilot projects, which Siegal said yielded 58 data sets. Those pilots resulted in refined metrics that were smaller and easier to use. Beta metrics include measures of energy use, water use, nutrient use and soil condition. The Stewardship Index has developed a calculator that can be embedded in a spreadsheet to help growers input their data.
Siegal said the Stewardship Index wants to establish one set of metrics for fresh produce.
“We will be far better off if it is a single set of metrics that is everybody is collaborating around,” she said.
Kathy Means, vice president of government relations and public affairs for the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association, said the advantage of the Stewardship Index metrics is that growers would only have to measure one for any standard.
“We are not creating standards. We are creating yardsticks,” Means said.