THIS LEADER has been tricky to write. At first I thought I’d look back at the year gone by – but we’ve done that across four pages inside.
We’ve had banana wars and good news for organic food. There have been climate change tomes and carbon emission rhetoric. The Footprint Awards in the summer took us higher, but the lack of engagement with the Public Health Responsibility Deal’s key pledges brought us back down to earth. There has been data; so much data, in fact, that from issue to issue we don’t know what to do with it all (hence we’ve started a new “datasheet” on page 8 for the stats that stand out).
Then I thought I’d look forward, with an air of positivity. But campylobacter, wage demands and food pricing bogged me down in a quagmire of sustainability dilemmas. Of course, that’s where this magazine comes in – to lend a hand when you are stuck between your sustainable ambitions on the one side and commercial (and regulatory) reality on the other. So I looked back at what I wrote this time in 2013. My focus was on the voluntary deals, both in health and waste.
Regarding waste, the signs of progress are evident in the £10m of savings that signatories have so far enjoyed (page 19). With only a quarter of hospitality and foodservice involved, there is more to be done and more to be saved.
Health is proving trickier. In November the health minister Jane Ellison offered some warm words of encouragement on our comment pages. A month later McKinsey reported that the global economic impact of obesity is $2 trillion (page 21), but 44 different interventions, many low or no cost, could make a huge impact. Portion control, reformulation of products and availability of high-calorie foods and drinks were the top three. And yet while many companies are willing to show calorie labels, few have taken the braver step of choice editing (and this could be extended to the “less meat” agenda too, page 21).
Waste and obesity will be key topics of discussion again this year, as will wages, energy and, with the hoped-for international deal in Paris at the end of 2015, carbon. But will yours be a business that discusses and delays or acts and accelerates?