A new report from The Economist Intelligence Unit has found that four in five business executives claim their companies have a responsible supply chain, but less than a quarter of global businesses are working to address issues like climate change and child labor.

The report sets out the direct link with brand reputation, as well as the practicalities of ensuring business continuity when issues like climate change pose an ever growing threat to agricultural production. It encourages companies to think long-term and build a business case for more transparent, sustainable and socially-inclusive supply chains.

The butcher checking his own meat is probably less credible.

Certification is cited throughout the report as one important way for companies to make progress. The authors cite Han de Groot, Executive Director of UTZ, on the value of independent certification: “The butcher checking his own meat is probably less credible.”

Another key conclusion is that sustainability must be integrated in the core of a business, with social and environmental issues translated from moral imperatives into risks and opportunities relevant to business leaders.

This is not a matter of choice any more: consumers expect it. It is a matter of not being left behind.

The report concludes with Han de Groot’s advice for companies: “This is not a matter of choice any more: consumers expect it. It is a matter of not being left behind.”