Index Version 1.0

What is the 2023 Index pilot about?

Index Pilot

Developing the National Index on Agri-Food Performance pilot is the most recent work – known as phase 3 from May 2022 to May 2023. This report expresses the need for and advantage of a Canadian-made Index. It also outlines all projects undertaken in this phase. See Part 1 of the final report, What was achieved: Summary.

The pilot details the metrics for 20 indicators spanning four blocks of sustainability and identifies data limitations. The work also assesses the Index’s alignment with several existing global benchmarking initiatives for additional context. See Part 2, Index Pilot: Indicators and Metrics.

The work includes seven short interpretative papers on key Index findings. Selected indicators are profiled as well as commentaries on interpreting and designing the Index. Part 3, Seven Papers on Index Results includes the following papers:

This work laid the foundation for the Centre for Agri-Food Benchmarking to manage and evolve the Index going forward, starting in 2024.

Index Version 1.0

Index metrics and indicators

The Index presents the criteria for measuring agri-food sector sustainability on a consolidated basis. (“Food sector” includes all supply chains stakeholders directly involved in agricultural production through to retail.)

It includes a suite of 20 metrics and 130 indicators. The intent is to paint a comprehensive view of sustainability – showing areas of leadership and shortcomings.

See Part 2, Index Pilot: Indicators and Metrics.

Index metrics and indicators diagram
Moving forward

What happens next 2023–2027

The partners have now produced the Index pilot and the measures. They have decided to house the Centre for Agri-Food Benchmarking with the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute. They have determined how the Centre will be governed and outlined the process needed to source data to improve the Index in the future.

The coalition is working on improving the National Index on Agri-Food Performance (see February 2024 Press Release).

  • Activity 1 involves engaging partners, formalizing and operating the Centre for Agri-Food Benchmarking and considering how best to evolve the Index. See diagram below.
  • Activity 2 focuses on reviewing the adequacy of Index indicators and metrics, and addressing priority data gaps to, ultimately, produce a new version 2.0 of the Index. Doing so also involves developing a method to collect new and better data, considers standardizing processes and better expressing Index methodologies.
  • Activity 3 applies the Index across the sector to  promote its uptake and learn from its use and engages stakeholders to build visibility and garner feedback. Work also includes communicating results so that the Index can be a more relevant tool to inform sustainability dialogues.
  • Longer-term sightline: It is intended that the Centre will have a long-term mandate. The need to demonstrate sustainability will persist so to meet global climate, environmental and other goals from 2030 to 2050 and rising ESG requirements.

Work plan (2023–2027)


To be a partner in advancing Canada’s first agri-food sustainability index, please contact:

David McInnes
Executive Director and Founder
National Index on Agri-Food Performance