WWF-UK and the Food Ethics Council recently interviewed senior food business executives to investigate their understanding of sustainable food security and barriers to achieving it. They said the government needs to take bold action to create a food system that serves citizens, the economy and the planet.
The organizations have released a new food security report, From individual to collective action: exploring the business case for addressing sustainable food security, which concludes that sustainable food security delivers long-term business security.
WFF and the Food Ethics Council call on both businesses and government to take active roles to deliver long-term food security. They suggest businesses pursue opportunities to work together and that the government creates conditions to facilitate that collaboration.
WWF-UK expert on sustainable food security Duncan Williamson said, “It’s heartening to see that more companies are grappling with the issues of sustainable food systems, but if we’re all to reap the benefits, they need to act boldly, and quickly.”
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It was also found that businesses have a limited knowledge of food security challenges and how to respond to them. The issues of growing demand, climate change, deforestation, water management, fossil fuel dependence, soil fertility and biodiversity loss all need to be considered from field to fork, in addition to other issues related to the impacts of food supply chains. According to the report, the first step is to define the meaning of genuine long-term food security within a food business and across the sector.
“In working on this report with WWF-UK, it became increasingly clear that some food businesses have a narrow understanding of food security. We’d urge them to join forces to tackle the issues head on, to safeguard their own futures, and at the same time the long-term wellbeing of their customers, workforce, producer communities and the planet,” said Dan Crossley, Executive Director of the Food Ethics Council.
Suggestions for businesses include:
- Understand local food insecurity issues in a global context, looking at where you source from and sell to;
- Explore actions for the benefit of a wider society;
- Only consider commercial benefits alongside social benefits; and
- Lobby for a step-change in the wider business environment to support food security goals.
The report also offers practical advice from businesses already working on sustainable food security — including PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever UK & Ireland, Asda, PwC, Sodexo UK & Ireland, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Mars Inc., and IGD — and tips on strengthening the business case, including framing challenges as opportunities for business success, internalizing the urgency of challenges, and building long-term relationships with suppliers.