The Canadian Agri-Food Sustainability Initiative (CASI) will seek to address the concerns in the agri-food sector and manage risk to meet global demand for safe, healthy, and sustainable agri-food products through an integrated solution. CASI is a collaboration of farm organizations and food/beverage processors, manufacturers, and retailers working together to create a full scope, whole farm, and whole value chain sustainability transparency system.
CASI will not be another standard or program. The goal of CASI is to develop and provide a one-stop system for Canadian agri-food supply chain sustainability data, programs, tools, and collaboration. It seeks to facilitate continuous improvement in sustainability across the entire agri-food industry; ensuring confidence in the consistency, ethics, and quality of Canadian agri-food products and enabling credible, meaningful, and verifiable claims about the manner in which products are produced. CASI is the place for dialogue and distribution of metrics, communications, and tools that meet the needs of end-users, without compromising the ability of the farmer to be part of the discussion and grow in partnership with the supply chain, in the spirit of continuous improvement.
Originally conceived as the Sustainable Farm and Food Initiative, the project has now evolved beyond Ontario to include a national focus. There is an emerging opportunity to collaborate with other provinces on a national approach to farm and food sustainability, an important step forward for the Canadian agri-food system. By working together to determine equivalencies with both existing and emerging sustainability standards and programs, within Canada and internationally, commodity groups have the opportunity to proactively meet the growing demand for proof of sustainability from their customers – the food and retail sector. This will enable a clear and transparent approach to sustainability through a Canadian lens. CASI will be the hub of interaction and harmonization, linking farm-level interaction and education with global sustainability equivalencies, and everything in-between.
It is necessary for supply chains to be market-ready for sustainability requirements, so the agri-food system needs to increase its ability to clearly articulate and demonstrate sustainability measures across the supply chain. This has resulted in a rapidly evolving landscape of sustainability requirements and programs that creates confusion and duplication of efforts. Furthermore, the global food market system is demanding alignment with multiple sustainability standards and Canada currently does not have a whole farm, whole value chain solution to align with international standards, despite a selection of commodity-specific efforts. CASI aims to solve this problem. In order to be successful, there must be collaboration with programs already in use by farmers and industry to reduce duplication and market confusion.