Sustainability strategies generate financial benefits for nearly all surveyed food and agriculture companies, finds new research from NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business and Deloitte Consulting LLP

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79% of survey respondents realized more than 2% revenue growth and 74% realized more than 2% in cost reductions by implementing sustainability strategies 


New York– March 15, 2024– Today, NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business (CSB) and Deloitte released summary findings from a new research survey and study, “Unleashing Sustainable Value in Food and Agriculture.” This collaboration stems from a continuous effort to help organizations make strategic sustainability investment decisions and bridge the gap between sustainability strategies and financial performance. 


The research builds upon NYU Stern CSB’s Return on Sustainability Investment (ROSI) framework for food and agriculture, which identifies 12 sustainability strategies, specific practices, and monetization methods. NYU Stern CSB and Deloitte sought to better understand the financial value drivers for investing in sustainability strategies across the food and agriculture supply chain, identify conditions that enable or discourage investment, explore opportunities to accelerate climate action, and provide a guide to improve investment decision making and the execution of sustainability strategies.  


Agrifood systems are responsible for one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions and the use of 70% of freshwater resources, while these same food systems will be some of the first and most significantly impacted by the effects of climate change. Food and agriculture organizations must grapple with the associated business challenges and opportunities with a deeper understanding of how the implementation of sustainability strategies can drive change, in addition to creating significant business value. 


Administered by Wakefield, a third-party research firm, a 25-question survey co-designed by NYU Stern CSB and Deloitte was completed by 350 executives across five value chain segments of the food and agriculture industry (Processing, Manufacturing, Food Services, Restaurants, and Retail) in the United States, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and Germany. 

A quantitative analysis of the survey was supplemented with follow up interviews and existing ROSI project data confirmed hypotheses and uncovered new insights on opportunities for discrete actions that derive financial value. Of the executives surveyed, nearly all realized financial value from sustainability, with 99% reporting increased revenue and 98% reporting reduced cost.   


Additional key findings include: 

  • While nearly all respondents realized some financial value, there was significant magnitude to that value for many: 14% of respondents realized more than 5% in revenue growth, and 20% of respondents experienced more than 5% in cost reductions 
  • Moreover, there was a significant cost of inaction: 57% of respondents experienced revenue loss and 68% reported cost increase due to delays or lack of investment in sustainability 
  • 60% of respondents expect value from sustainability strategies to increase in the next two years 
  • There was a statistically significant positive correlation between those engaging in pre-competitive collaboration and/or external partnerships and those who achieved revenue growth over 5% 


"NYU Stern CSB is committed to research that informs better decision making for business investment in sustainability,” said Elyse Douglas, Senior Scholar at NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business. “This joint research with Deloitte highlights the strategies that create tangible value today and provides a roadmap to enable accelerated investment for a sustainable and profitable future." 


“Our publication with NYU Stern CSB is an example of truly collaborative work that will help to positively shape the food and agriculture industry and the role that these organizations can play in mitigating climate change and lowering greenhouse gas emissions,” said Ben Ninio, Sustainability Strategy and Transformation Leader and Principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP. “One of Deloitte’s strengths in this space is our ability to help organizations with their unique challenges in building a business case for sustainability. Because of the impactful findings from this research, Deloitte will be able to more effectively assist our clients in unlocking the connection between investing in sustainability, long-term transformation, and significant financial returns.” 


The research was unveiled at the NYU Stern CSB Practice Forum, through a panel discussion on value drivers in the food and agriculture sector and monetization methods to capture benefits. A forthcoming paper will incorporate case studies, detailed analysis of the survey, and examples of the 12 sustainability strategies and monetization methods in action. 


About NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business

The NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business (CSB) was founded with the vision of a better world through better business. Through practical research, innovation in education, and corporate engagement, CSB aims to unleash the transformative potential of business to solve societal challenges at speed and scale. At CSB, we empower current and future business leaders to shape the new sustainable business paradigm with updated business frameworks that embrace proactive and innovative mainstreaming of sustainability, resulting in competitive advantage and resiliency for their companies as well as a positive impact for society.

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see for a detailed description of our legal structure. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.


Media contacts:

Alison Berg, NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business |

Imara Bright-Johnson, Deloitte |