Talking Point  

Disappointment after sustainable food proposals do not go far enough

Disappointment after sustainable food proposals do not go far enough
(Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

The drive towards sustainable food production in the UK, a sector that requires investment, is under heavy pressure as it has been estimated that the drought could cut production of certain foods by half.

At a recent meeting of the National Drought Group – made up of senior decision-makers from the Environment Agency, government, water companies and key representative groups – attendees were told “irrigation options are diminishing with reservoirs being emptied fast”, and losses of between 10 per cent and 50 per cent were expected for crops, including carrots, onions, sugar beet, apples and hops, according to a report by the Guardian.

The unfolding food crisis comes as the Investor Coalition on UK Food Policy has called on the government to introduce a mandatory system of health and sustainability reporting across the food industry.

The coalition said mandatory reporting, which at a minimum should include sales reporting of fruit and vegetables, plant and animal-based proteins and sales of HFSS (high in fat, sugar, salt) foods, would help investors to understand the direct and systemic risks companies face and facilitate the movement of capital toward companies that are supporting the transition to a sustainable and healthy food system.

The campaign launch follows the publication of the government’s white paper response to last year’s government-commissioned review of the food system: the “National Food Strategy”. 

Members of Investor Coalition welcomed the government’s commitment to improving food industry reporting standards, but said the proposals did not go far enough, adding they were disappointed by the low aspirations of the white paper in response to other national food strategy recommendations.

Last month, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee launched a food security inquiry in response to pressures facing food producers and rising food prices. 

The inquiry will also consider the government’s food strategy white paper and the UK’s level of food self-sufficiency.

Ima Jackson-Obot is deputy features editor of FTAdviser