Enhancing supply chain sustainability


How can companies improve the sustainability of their products through supply chain management? We are studying the feasibility and impacts of various measures in the chocolates and textiles sectors.

​Project description (ongoing research project)

Chocolates and textiles – two important Swiss industries – often have to cope with negative reports about environmental and social problems in their supply chains. Critics claim that new, additional standards do not lead to real changes, but rather that suppliers and subcontractors are subjected to a conflict between “sustainable” and “cheap”. The aim of this project is to identify ways in which supply chains in the chocolates and textiles sectors can be made more sustainable. Using real company cases, we will quantitatively examine the potential of various measures to achieve long-term improvements in the sustainability of multiple supply chain members.


Most Swiss companies active in production or trade are dependent on global supply chains. Swiss purchasing agents are investing a great deal in order to bring sustainability to a high level. They are introducing environmental and social standards in their supply chains, reviewing their suppliers and ensuring that supply chains are improved. Despite all efforts, the desired effect in the supply chains is only achieved occasionally.


  1. To analyse sustainability hotspots along the supply chain in the chocolates and cotton apparel sectors.
  2. To identify and evaluate decision-making processes necessary to influence the previously identified supply chain hotspots.
  3. To assess the potential of measures to increase the sustainability of individual supply chains and suppliers.
  4. To develop and disseminate recommendations for sustainability management in supply chains for the chocolates and cotton apparel sectors.


The Swiss textiles and chocolates sectors have an enormous influence on the achievement of several of the Sustainable Development Goals, both in Switzerland and in countries from which the raw materials (such as cocoa or cotton) are purchased. This research project is the first to quantitatively evaluate various options for upstream supplier management.

Original title

Enhancing supply chain stability, resilience and sustainability through improved sub-supplier management –chocolate and cotton apparel case studies

Project leader

Project leader

  • Dr. Christian Schader, Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau (FiBL)

Project partner

  • Prof. Dr. Joerg Stefan Hofstetter, International Forum on Sustainable Value Chains (ISVC)



Further information on this content



Dr. Christian Schader Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau (FiBL) Ackerstrasse 113
Postfach 219
5070 Frick +41 62 865 04 16

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