FOOD BUSINESSES want more regulation to help them tackle issues linked to sustainability, including food security.
In their research for a new report, published today, WWF and the Food Ethics Council also discovered that voluntary approaches are seen as “lacking necessary urgency” and “an inefficient use of company resources”.
The study explores the business case for addressing sustainable food security – an issue currently approached “through the narrow lens of security of supply”. WWF/FEC argue that access to healthy food and the environmental impacts of the food supply chain also need to be considered.
“A limited knowledge amongst businesses of how to deal with the range of issues associated with production – growing demand, climate change, deforestation, water management, fossil fuel dependence, soil fertility and biodiversity loss – further increases the risks,” the report reads.
Through interviews and discussion groups with firms including Nando’s, Sodexo, Pret A Manger and PepsiCo, researchers discovered a “welcome increase in appetite” to address long-term food security challenges, and yet the motivation to work collaboratively remained “weak”. This is where government should take the lead, respondents claimed.
“Many food company representatives felt that [the] UK government’s role should be to legislate to create a level playing field that would allow sustainable food security initiatives to thrive,” the researchers noted. This could include subsidies and tax relief to incentivise actions that contribute to long-term food security.
One executive suggested that maximising taxation to reflect the real cost of food “would be interesting from a public policy perspective [in a way similar to cigarettes], and also from a carbon footprint perspective. That way, the cost of bad health will be internalised in high sugar and fat products.”