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Data on a plate for the food & drink industry turns TNFD and CSRD into a recipe for success

BlogBlog31 January 2024

If the headline of this blog has whetted your appetite, we’d like to give you something to chew over…  

Data on a plate for the food & drink industry turns TNFD and CSRD into a recipe for success

At a time when climate change, international conflicts and unstable financial markets are causing spiralling food production costs and compounding the cost-of-living crisis, the food and drink industry has found itself one of those most exposed following the introduction of the new TNFD and CSRD environmental business reporting requirements. 

Rather than choking on these new rules and recommendations, an increasing number of food and drink companies like M&S, Tesco and Innocent are partnering with us to deploy our ‘Polly’ AI bioacoustics insect monitoring devices to give them data they can use to really get their teeth into this environmental reporting, and instead are creating transparency that is commercially nutritious and appealing – especially to consumers.   

OK, enough with the food analogies!   

So, what is TNFD? 

The Task Force on Nature Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) published its global framework of recommendations in September 2023. Designed to help decelerate loss and revalue nature, it supports businesses who adopt the recommendations to identify, transparently report and act on their nature-related dependencies, impacts, risks, and opportunities across the value chain.  

This is a significant challenge, but a vital one and especially beneficial for large corporations such as international supermarkets or food and drink brands with complex supply chains. Besides improving risk management, mobilising business innovation and finance to reverse this nature loss, it is becoming a major source of new market opportunities and competitive advantage. Investor interest in this area has been increasing significantly. 

Indeed, at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this month, TNFD announced 320 organisations from over 46 countries have already committed to making nature-related disclosures based on the TNFD recommendations. 

And what about CSRD?

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) requires large companies to report on their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impacts and how they are impacted. It came into force at the start of last year but only now are companies having to apply these new rules in the 2024 financial year, for reports published in 2025.  

The CSRD is a European Union directive and applies to all EU companies with more than 250 employees and a net turnover of more than €40 million. However, it has strong relevance in the UK as it also applies to many non-EU companies (if operating in the EU with a turnover of over €150 or if they have an EU branch with an annual net turnover of more than €40m turnover).  

Beyond compliance into increased commercial success – How can AgriSound’s AI bioacoustics insect monitors help? 

TNFD and CSRD may appear daunting mandates, but food and drink businesses can transform compliance into a commercial opportunity. We work with a wide range of organisations including supermarkets M&S and Tesco, brands such as Innocent drinks, and numerous commercial food producers and farmers, who are using AgriSound’s Polly devices for a spectrum of initiatives. Everything from increasing crop yields naturally, to cut the environmental impact of the average shopping basket and enhance the sustainability of UK food production, to species conservation and rewilding projects.  

The number of companies using the data our Polly AI insect listening device system provides to identify baselines, identify improvements, measure positive biodiversity impacts and demonstrate meeting ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) commitments is increasing daily. And we are now seeing a particular requirement to facilitate not only meeting TNFD and CSRD requirements, but to help companies demonstrate how they are going beyond compliance into environmental stewardship and using this as a springboard from which to increase brand equity. 

Three main reasons we regularly find organisations are incorporating our technology into their approach to ESG: 

  • To quantify environmental credentials – to monitor biodiversity gains, statistically demonstrating to shareholders and investors the positive impact of the environmental /biodiversity initiatives they are undertaking, showcasing a commitment to environmental stewardship that transcends regulatory requirements. 
  • To create a compelling narrative – to engage consumers in more appealing ways. Consumers are increasingly discerning, demanding transparency and authenticity from brands. Protecting bees and pollinators is an emotive subject and contributing to this has commercial appeal, building altruistic brand equity and fostering trust. 
  • To inform meaningful intervention – food producers and farmers, dependent on healthy and abundant insects for effective pollination, are keen to be able to demonstrate they are going above and beyond to enhance natural methods of doing so. Our listening devices provide real time data for targeted intervention. Businesses can track the effectiveness of their initiatives, identify areas for improvement, and evolve towards a more sustainable future. This can also enable them to access grant funding for such initiatives. 

Food production benefitting from AgriSound’s AI bioacoustic technology – A snapshot 

M&S – Benchmarking pollinator activity across top suppliers 

Our collaboration with M&S on its Farming with Nature programme supports the retailer’s Select Farmers to become more resilient to environmental challenges spanning climate change and biodiversity loss. Our technology’s provision of access to real-time data and insights has proved so successful in helping maintain quality of produce, improving crop yields, and supporting biodiversity, M&S has recently rolled it out to 18 more farms.

This roll-out will cover a diverse range of M&S’s fruit, veg and salad farms, making up 8% of M&S British growers, with monitors covering 120 habitats and over 1000 hectares, the largest number of growers reached through a retailer-funded trial to date.  

CHAP Pioneering pollination strategies to boost strawberry production 

We are part of a consortium headed by Crop Health and Protection (CHAP) collaborating on a 24-month early-stage project, funded by Innovate UK, which uses our sensors to precisely monitor pollinator activity in strawberry farms and develop tools to modify pollinator behaviour. The work supports farmers to grow higher quality produce, with improved nutritional profiles as well as an extended shelf life. This will ultimately boost British strawberry production, reducing the reliance on imports and improving the UK’s sustainability journey. 

So, it’s clear, that while the TNFD and CSRD present undeniable challenges for the food and drink industry, they can also represent huge opportunities if approached in the right way. AgriSound’s expertise in providing data that can seamlessly feed into, inform and enhance the demonstration of efforts that comply or go above and beyond the requirements can help companies demonstrate environmental altruism while also capitalising commercially. 

We’d love to see how we can help you help your food or drink organisation benefit from adopting the TNFD and CSRD recommendations. If you want to do yourself a favour as well as the planet, by harnessing the power of our bioacoustics data, do get in contact at [email protected] and we can meet… perhaps for a drink and a bite to eat? 

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