SIGWATCH is a trusted business intelligence tool for the world’s largest crop input supplier. The company uses its NGO intelligence across the organisation to provide early warning of issues and trends, enabling it to develop more proactive business strategies.


The company is a global supplier of crop inputs and services. It produces and distributes approximately 25 million tonnes of potash, nitrogen and phosphate fertilizer and sells direct to farmers via its network of 30,000 retail outlets. Its primary markets are Canada, where it is based, and the United States, Brazil and Australia.


For the past two years, the firm's issues management unit has been tracking and analysing the key issues that have an impact on the business from a social, regulatory, financial and activist point of view. SIGWATCH is one of three principal tools it relies on to gather intelligence. According to a issues and reputation analyst, the NGO perspective provided by SIGWATCH is particularly valuable because “activists are typically very vocal on issues before they filter through to society, our investors and our grower clients.”


Whilst the issues management unit is the primary user, SIGWATCH’s insights are shared across the business. Currently, 25,000 internal stakeholders have access to SIGWATCH data which they use to inform business strategies and reports.


SIGWATCH makes it possible for the crop input supplier giant to monitor the most pressing ESG issues specific to its business. Working closely with the SIGWATCH team, the company has mapped out, grouped together and weighted the most relevant topics for them by importance – from biodiversity and climate change to worker safety and human rights. Tracking these provides useful intelligence that can be relayed to internal stakeholders in the communications, sustainable agriculture and government industry affairs teams. Fast-rising issues are highlighted to the vice president groups once a month and together they decide which of these should be escalated to the executive team on a quarterly basis.


Asked to summarize the value SIGWATCH brings, they say, “With SIGWATCH, we’re able to absorb NGO data in an awesome way that simply wouldn’t be possible otherwise. We can hear the NGOs’ voice, to better strategize and get ahead of trending issues. For the firm, SIGWATCH is a strategic business tool that enables it to stay:

Risk-aware – SIGWATCH provides advance warning of issues, enabling the company to plan ahead and mitigate risks. Several years ago, investors excluded them from their portfolios due to its involvement in the trade of so-called “conflict minerals” in the Western Sahara. Had the company been using SIGWATCH at that time, they maintain, it would have had better visibility of the
problem and been able to better react before it escalated.

Ahead of the curve – With SIGWATCH data, they are able to be more proactive and take advantage of emerging trends. For example, it has seen biodiversity rise up the NGO agenda and, based on this information, is taking steps to ensure that its products aren’t affecting pollinators or the billions of microbes in the soil.

Informed and aligned – SIGWATCH’s intelligence enables the crop company to align its business with current NGO thinking and trending issues before they filter into the mainstream. When they recently launched a carbon programme to teach and incentivise farmers to better sequester carbon in their soil, SIGWATCH data helped them align with NGOs supportive of its initiative and understand the arguments of those who were against it.

Spreading the benefits

The company's next priority is to make SIGWATCH’s data available across the business, in as clear, concise, accessible and impactful a way as possible. They are now in discussions about receiving SIGWATCH data in a standardized format, from which to build bespoke online tools for supporting and alerting internal company users about NGO campaigns and issues.

A bespoke service

SIGWATCH’s analysis of the impact of activism is tailored to your business needs. Our team has experience working with clients across all sectors on the full spectrum of issues – from human rights to biodiversity loss to alternative energy sources.