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A Practical Application for Measuring the Sustainability of Ben & Jerry's Dairy Suppliers


Currently, Ben & Jerry’s lacks a comprehensive set of indicators by which to evaluate the environmental, social, and economic impacts of each of its ingredients.  The intersection of these three areas of performance will provide a measure of the company’s ‘sustainability.’  Ultimately, Ben & Jerry’s wants to develop indicators for all ingredients to guide procurement, influence suppliers’ operations, and enhance the overall sustainability of their products.  The first step in this process would be to develop indicators for dairy, its largest input by volume.  Therefore, the objective of this project is to develop a set of sustainability indicators (characterized as a balanced set of environmental, social, and economic considerations) as a means of defining sustainable dairy production.  The team will then incorporate the indicators into a template that Ben & Jerry’s may use to evaluate the overall sustainability of a given supplier. A comprehensive set of environmental, social, and economic indicators will be gathered through a general literature review, life cycle analysis review, company research on sustainable dairy producers, and interviews with current Ben & Jerry’s suppliers.  The indicators will be screened using criteria such as verifiability, measurability, and ease of collection to arrive at a set of key indicators to measure sustainability of dairy products. The indicators will be formatted into a user-friendly template that enables Ben & Jerry’s to evaluate the overall impact of a given supplier’s dairy production. The indicators will be field tested with current Ben & Jerry’s suppliers in order to evaluate usability and effectiveness.  An effort will be made to balance simplicity with completeness and guidance will be provided on the use and implementation of the template.  The results from the template will help Ben & Jerry’s influence existing suppliers’ agricultural practices and facilitate selection of new suppliers.  Ben & Jerry’s will also be able to better communicate their progress towards sustainability to internal and external stakeholders. 

Ben and Jerry's Homemade
Research Areas
Food Systems and Consumer Products
Food & Agriculture