At the beginning of January, WWF-UK gathered an audience of policymakers, academics, food industry associations and NGOs to present the findings of a new report. However, instead of highlighting a new environmental threat to habitats or species, this report was about the food we eat.
Specifically the report, called Livewell 2020 and drawn up by the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health at the University of Aberdeen, combined the Governments own nutrition guidelines with the greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) associated with food to produce recommendations for a diet that is both healthy and sustainable.
The growing, processing, distribution and consumption of food all have a massive impact on the planet, both due to the loss of habitat and the loss of key ecosystem services. In addition, food is responsible for 30% of the UKs GHGs (including those arising from land-use change/deforestation).
In other words, for us at WWF, sustainable food choices are not just a nice-to-have theyre essential to the long-term viability of our global food system. And its not just us saying it: the recent report by Foresight, led by the governments chief scientific advisor, John Beddington, also highlighted the urgent need to redesign the global food system to meet the challenge of feeding the world over the next 40 years.
The Food service Sector has a pivotal role to play in ensuring we reduce our environmental footprint. The sector needs to source key food commodities such as palm oil, soy, fish, sugar, meat, dairy, poultry and other food stuffs responsibly, and also sustainably; indeed, the sector should be removing unsustainable products from their shelves.
The sector also has a real opportunity to address some of the key environmental drivers. As part of the industry, you will also need rounded sustainability strategies to reduce your companys vulnerability to the ecological crunch and survive in an increasingly resource-constrained world.
But this is not just an issue for the foodservice industry, we all have to play our part producers, retailers, government and organisations like WWF in promoting sustainable food choices. We went to provoke a discussion, therefore, about the ways in which the different health and sustainability agendas can be more closely aligned.