Growing for the Future

May 15, 2019

A research project  with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to identify business trends related to conservation and sustainability across the ag retail sector.  

THE ISSUE: As trusted advisors, ag retail plays a critical role in conservation

As one of the most trusted sources of advice for farmers, ag retailers can have an outsized impact on the adoption rate of conservation practices in their territories. With consumers and downstream supply chain organizations starting to put more pressure on farmers to change their production practices\, this in turn impacts retailers and their businesses. Understanding this impact helps  retailers serve farmers and promote conservation as effectively as possible. 

OUR SOLUTION: Gather first-hand insights from across the retail spectrum  

Together with EDF we surveyed and interviewed ag retailers of all types and sizes across the U.S. to better understand how the push for conservation and sustainability is impacting them, and how they are responding. By hearing from retailers – those from the innovative end of the spectrum, the traditional side of the spectrum, and those in between – we are able to understand the business impacts that conservation has on the retail sector. 

WHAT’S NEXT?: Sustainability could be big business for retailers, but it comes with tradeoffs 

Most retailers reported seeing great potential from a business perspective in transitioning to a more sustainable production system, but with key  caveats. In many cases, retailers used to sell products by the gallon which they now sell by the ounce, so they must supplement their business revenue with increased advisory services such as subfield level input management planning. Retailers face staffing bottlenecks in scaling their advisory services, as these activities take more hours of consultation with farmers than previous. 


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