Embedded Attributes

Many food companies and retailers are interested in calculating the benefits associated with adherence to a given set of production standards or performance parameters. They are working to develop such data to:

  • Support labeling and advertising messages for consumers.
  • Respond to concerns expressed by shareholders.
  • Share insights gained with supply chain partners working to quantify progress toward sustainable production systems that lighten the food system’s environmental footprint.

M2M’s Pesticide Use Data System provides pesticide active ingredient used per acre of crop.

M2M will develop and post online a series of calculators designed to simplify the quantification of certain embedded attributes associated with a defined volume of a specific food. For example, organic farmers are prohibited from using toxic, synthetic pesticides, and so an “embedded attribute” associated with the consumption of organic food is the pesticides not applied as a result of a grower’s adherence to organic production standards.

For major raw agricultural commodities, meats, and dairy products, as well as multi-ingredient foods, we will develop a series of linked calculators that support estimates of the pounds of synthetic chemical nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers and pesticides not applied as a result of the purchase of organic food. Pounds of raw agricultural commodities, food ingredients, and multi-ingredient foods will be translated into acres of production via a series of user-friendly calculators.


In the case of animal products, e.g. milk, a typical unit of consumption and/or production (a gallon, a dozen eggs) will be analyzed. The amount of feed required to produce the animal product will be calculated, and translated into acres of crop production and pasture.

Users will be asked to choose among alternative data sources for the estimates of the average pounds of nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers applied, and pounds of herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, other pesticides, and all pesticides applied per acre. These options will include: national averages on conventional farms, state-level averages (when available), or user reported values (when known).