Food Sector Benchmarking on Water Risk Management


I. Summary

With more than 25 years of experience, Ceres is a nonprofit advocacy group with unique credibility and expertise in driving sustainability leadership into the economy. Sitting at the intersection of investors, business, and NGO advocates, Ceres brings these critical perspectives together to accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices and solutions to build a healthy global economy.

In 2015, Ceres released Feeding Ourselves Thirsty: How the Food Sector is Managing Global Water Risks. The report, which was framed for an investor audience, examined how water risks affect the profitability and competitive positioning of 37 major food sector companies. Companies included in the assessment – the majority of which are U.S. domiciled and publicly-traded- were evaluated and ranked on how well they are positioned to anticipate and respond to these risks.

Companies were scored on a 0-100 point scale across 4 categories of water risk management (Governance & Management, Direct Operations, Manufacturing Supply Chain & Agricultural Supply Chain) and against 11 key indicators and 44 sub-indicators. Companies were benchmarked using indicators and scoring drawn largely from the Ceres Aqua Gauge, a tool developed by Ceres in consultation with a range of investor, corporate and NGO stakeholders to support corporate action on water stewardship and enhance investor analysis of corporate water risk.

Ceres is seeking to commission a research provider to help produce our 2nd assessment of the food sector response to water risk. The findings and analysis will once again be framed primarily for an investor audience with companies as a secondary audience. 

II. Assessment Description

This will be the 2nd benchmarking report of food sector response to water risk. This report will be similarly positioned as the first despite some minor refinements to the indicators and scoring and a few adjustments to the company universe. Additionally, there may be some changes to the format of the report if we choose to share the findings in an online platform.

As with the first report, the assessment will be based largely upon publicly available information including:

·      Voluntary corporate disclosures such as sustainability or corporate social responsibility reports, press releases and company websites

·      Company responses to CDP information requests

·      Mandatory financial disclosures such as 10-K filings and proxy statements

Research Universe

Here are the 37 companies benchmarked in Feeding Ourselves Thirsty. We expect to make some minor adjustments to the company universe primarily to account for mergers and acquisitions in the sector. However, the final number of companies is not expected to change dramatically.

III. Timing & Deliverables

From late October through March, the research provider will need to assess company performance against the evaluation framework; run cross sector and industry analysis; pull together an internal report for Ceres highlighting new trends as well as corporate performance overtime using Feeding Ourselves Thirsty scoring as a benchmark; and develop key visuals to be incorporated into the second iteration of this report. (email [email protected] for workplan)

Proposals should be submitted to Eliza Roberts Manager, Ceres Water Program by October 15, 2016 at [email protected] .


  • Names and short bios of members of the research team, their proposed roles, and proportional contribution of time to be committed to the project.
  • Links to recent reports or research authored by the researcher(s) and/or writer(s) and what differentiates the research(s) from other potential applicants.
  • Discussion of ability to meet proposed milestones and completion date. 
  • Discussion of quality control approach.
  • A firm estimate of fees to be charged, and an estimate of additional expenses that would be incurred.