Sustainable Food Group - Sustainability Standard

Showcasing environmental and social best practices, with a focus on advanced Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

What is Sustainable Food Group - Sustainability Standard ?

For growers and buyers seeking to showcase their commitment to sustainable agriculture, the Sustainability Standard™ provides a framework for disclosing social and environmental best practices which address a broad spectrum of sustainability issues including: agrochemicals, environmental protection, soil health, nutrient and irrigation management, air quality, waste and recycling, water and energy conservation, worker welfare and emergency management. In addition, the standard is one of the few agricultural sustainability standards focused on advanced Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

As a stand-alone certification, or in addition to food safety audits such as PrimusGFS, SQF, BRCGS, GLOBALG.A.P., and others, the Sustainability Standard offers growers, producers, handlers, packers and shippers a meaningful tool to measure, document and improve the adoption of sustainability best practices. The standard also enables buyers to meet their sustainable sourcing commitments in a credible and verified manner, providing assurance that their suppliers are adopting best practices related to sustainable agriculture and emphasizes the importance of sharing sustainability practices with customers and consumers. It also allows buyers to track performance across the supply chain to pinpoint opportunities for improvements in sustainability. 

Modeled after Sysco’s Sustainable/IPM Program and already implemented worldwide on millions of acres of agricultural land in fruit and vegetable supply chains, the Sustainability Standard addresses reporting performance on key metrics in the retailers’ IPM Programs. To date, the Sustainable Standard is recognized by Walmart, Sysco, Whole Foods, Kroger and Giant Eagle to satisfy their requirements for advanced IPM.

Sustainability standards icons

Why Choose SCS?

For the last four decades, SCS has been a pioneer and leader in sustainability, environmental, food and agriculture certifications and services, with auditing capabilities around the world. The SCS teams of experts, trainers, auditors, and world-class customer service representatives provide leadership in a wide variety of agriculture certification including our own Certified Sustainably Grown® and Certified Pesticide Residue Free services, along with all major food safety certifications, including PrimusGFS, GLOBALG.A.P., BRCGS, SQF, Harmonized GAP, GMP and HACCP audits. Our global auditors are cross trained to provide you with exceptional service and significant cost savings when bundling your Sustainability Standard auditing and certification with any of these other food safety and agriculture certifications.

  • Benefits
  • Certification Process
  • Program Documents

As a grower, producer, packer/shipper The Sustainability Standard can help you:

  • Quantify and qualify your sustainability practices to share downstream in your supply chain, enabling them to amplify your story and achievements with their own customers and the public at large.
  • Sustainability Standard agriculture audits complement the food safety audits you are already doing, amplifying your commitment to environmental, social and overall sustainability best practices.
  • Sustainability Standard audits help to identify opportunities for environmental and social improvements and track the sustainability performance across your farms and operations.
  • With growing acceptance by retailers, Sustainability Standard certification provides greater access to national and international markets.
  • Can be bundled with food safety audits and certifications. 

As a buyer, The Sustainability Standard can help you:

  • Meet the environmental, social and sustainability transparency requirements of your customers while offering a framework of continuous improvement to your suppliers.
  • Report on your sustainable sourcing commitments through credible and verifiable data.
  • Effectively track sustainability performance across your suppliers, make comparisons, and identify opportunities for improvement across the supply chain.
  • Verify that environmentally and socially responsible agricultural production practices have been achieved within your supply chain.
  1. Complete the Sustainability Standard Self-Assessment Checklist to prepare and identify areas of improvement to ensure that your operation is set up to meet the requirements. 
  2. Complete a Sustainability Standard application and submit to SCS
  3. Contact SCS to schedule an initial onsite audit
  4. Onsite Audit is Conducted, the auditor has 15 days to submit the preliminary report. 
  5. Auditee has 30 days from audit date to submit and close corrective actions to obtain certification.
  6. Upon being granted, certification is valid for 36 months, when passing two desk audits.
  7. The Certification Body will provide a 60-day notice for the upcoming desk reviews and their deadlines. The desk review process can be seen here.
  8. On year three, the certification body will schedule an onsite audit. 
File Name Document
Self-Assessment Checklist English
Sustainability Standard Audit Checklist English   |   Spanish
Sustainability Standard Audit Guidelines English   |   Spanish
Sustainability Standard General Regulations English   |   Spanish
Sustainability Standard Group Certification IMS Checklist English
Sustainability Standard Individual vs Group Certification Comparison English

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Kristy-Ann Bura