Unilever, PepsiCo, Marks & Spencer and other companies that make up the Cool Farm Institute have selected Best Foot Forward and Centre for Agriculture and Environment as software partners to build a free online carbon calculator for farmers and suppliers.
The spreadsheet version of the Cool Farm Tool is currently online and free for growers to download and use. The companies expected the online carbon calculator to be available in May 2013.
Last May, Unilever, PepsiCo, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Yara, Heineken and Fertilizers Europe founded the institute, intended to help growers reduce the carbon footprint of their produce and livestock. The groups announced competitive bidding for the development of the online Cool Farm Tool carbon calculator, and 11 software firms responded.
The companies say the existing spreadsheet tool, created by the University of Aberdeen in partnership with Unilever and the Sustainable Food Lab, has been widely used and tested by farmers.
This summer, Walmart joined sustainable agriculture group Field to Market, which has its own Fieldprint Calculator, a free online tool to help growers analyze how their farming practices impact natural resources.
The group, whose members include Cargill, General Mills, Kellogg, Monsanto, Coca-Cola Company and World Wildlife Fund, among others, said in a July 2012 report that corn, wheat, soybeans, cotton, rice and potatoes are being produced more sustainably in the US than they were 30 years ago.
Last year, Best Foot Forward launched a service, piloted by PepsiCo, Tesco and Crown Paints, intended to provide a quick alternative to lifecycle assessments. Product Portfolio Footprinting, according to the company, enables businesses with complex supply chains and thousands of different products to quickly measure and manage their carbon footprint.