Fixing the food system requires companies to support a transition to sustainable food production and plant-based diets including ‘less and better’ meat, according to a new report.
The briefing paper, published by the Food Climate Research Network (FCRN) and the Food Foundation and targeted at investors, highlights the sustainability risks for food retailers, caterers and restaurants associated with the current food system and the opportunities in transitioning to a healthy, sustainable system.
The report argues that failure to support the transition will expose investors and businesses to risks associated with climate change, biodiversity loss, and impacts on human health, that are “too significant to be ignored”.
All businesses along the supply chain face exposure in some ways to physical risks concerning food supply and price volatility, while food businesses that are heavily dependent on revenue from unhealthy and environmentally damaging foods are said to be especially at risk from new regulation and changes in consumer demand.
However, companies with diversified product ranges or menu options, including more plant-based options, are more likely to be able to adapt to shifts in regulation or consumer preferences.
The paper states that food retailers, caterers and restaurants are in a unique position to influence the changes in consumption and production required both as “gatekeepers to our diets and the funnel through which most commercially produced food is channelled”.
The companies that are best prepared for these changes will most likely thrive, according to the analysis, while those stuck in unsustainable business models stand to lose.
Investors, meanwhile, are urged to increase expectations on companies to report more clearly on their progress towards the transition.
A follow-up report in September will analyse how food retailers, caterers and restaurants in the UK are currently reporting on risks and will propose a set of metrics to fill the gaps.