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The technology and climate science helping CPG brands with sustainable sourcing

In the competitive world of consumer goods, sustainability matters more than ever. In recent Google survey, 82% of consumerssaid sustainability is more top of mind now than it was before COVID-191 and 78% said that big businesses have a role to play in helping to fight climate change.2 As well as delivering on customers’ heightened expectations, sustainable business practices can help organizations reduce waste and lower operational costs and even help attract top talent.

Not only is sustainability good for business performance and the bottom line, it’s great for the planet, too. And it’s something we care deeply about at Google. Since our earliest days, we have focused on developing services that significantly improve the lives of billions of people while operating our business in an environmentally sustainable way. In 2007, we were the first major company to become carbon neutral, and in 2017 we were the first to achieve 100% renewable energy. Today, we proudly operate the cleanest cloud in the industry. We’ve also been powering humanitarian, scientific, and environmental initiatives studying geospatial information and making it available for analysis via Google Earth Engine

Powering the future of responsible sourcing 

How does all this relate to CPG supply chains? The world relies on raw materials like palm oil, soy, and cocoa to produce the items we consume every day—such as coffee, chocolate, frozen foods, shampoo, toothpaste, cosmetics, and even household cleaning products. Yet as demand for these materials continues to grow, forests are under threat. Change is needed.

As sustainability moves further into the spotlight, in-demand crops face increased supplier scrutiny. Environmentally conscious companies want to know what percentage of their raw materials is sourced from deforestation-free suppliers—and how they can improve that number. Until recently, many CPG brands have found it hard to get real-time, reliable visibility into operations at a local supplier level, globally. 

Google Cloud, in partnership with NGIS, is helping brands gain a deeper understanding of raw material sourcing practices across supplier networks, so they can improve supplier performance and compliance in the fight against deforestation. The TraceMark solution, developed by NGIS, uses Google Earth Engine and BigQuery to analyze and visualize how suppliers behave over time. 

Google Earth Engine is the world’s largest archive of open Earth data. It combines a multi-petabyte catalog of satellite imagery and geospatial datasets with planetary-scale analysis capabilities to help people detect changes, map trends, and quantify differences on the Earth’s surface.With Earth Engine, organizations can analyze the potential social, and environmental impacts of the decision they make. 

Together, TraceMark, Google Earth Engine and BigQueryhelp companies visualize, monitor, and measure the impact of suppliers’ farming practices. The process starts with Earth Engine, which aggregates and harmonizes planetary data into images that it has been collecting for decades. Then, boundary maps for different suppliers are created and NGIS applies climate data science and machine learning to turn pixels into insights. Finally, BigQuery and Vertex AI -Google Cloud’s unified artificial intelligence platform are used to produce supplier scoring, which is integrated into downstream ERP and procurement systems to support more informed decision-making.

These efforts support the responsible sourcing of raw materials by making supply chains more agile, transparent and traceable.

“NGIS is thrilled to work with Google Cloud and its partners to enable business accountability for sustainable practices at all levels of their supply chain,” said Nathan Eaton, Executive Director, NGIS. “Google Earth Engine provides unique geospatial capability that [gives] leaders visibility and control over their environmental footprint and that of their suppliers in a way that was not previously possible.” 

Unilever commits to working towards a deforestation-free supply chain 

Unilever is a great example of a company committed to using technology in the quest to become more sustainable. Since 2020, Unilever has partnered with Google Cloud to use data for eco-friendly decision-making, particularly when it comes to sustainable commodity sourcing. 

By combining the power of cloud computing with satellite imagery and AI, we’re helping Unilever build a more holistic view of the forests, water cycles, and biodiversity that intersect its supply chain. By gaining a complete picture of these ecosystems, Unilever can detect deforestation while simultaneously prioritizing critical areas of forest and habitats in need of protection.

The cleanest cloud for your sustainable transformation

We are excited to bring Google Earth Engine and NGIS to our CPG customers to help them meet their sustainability goals. Looking ahead, we’re committed to furthering our own ambitious sustainability goals and empowering CPG brands with the technology to do more for our environment and our shared future. 

Contact your cloud seller to learn more about Tracemark sustainable sourcing solutions and how Google Cloud can help you advance your sustainability initiatives.

Explore TraceMark on the Google Cloud Marketplace

To know more about how we are helping CPGs transform digitally read thisebook

1. Google/C Space, BR, FR, DE, IN, MX, U.K., U.S., qualitative survey activity, n = 528, Nov. 24–Nov. 26, 2020.
2. Google/Ipsos, Google Sustainability, BR, FR, DE, IN, JP, U.K., U.S., n=16,959 online population 18–70, July 2021.

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