Investors in the food industry have called for government action to transform the way we grow, manufacture and eat food, to tackle Britain’s public health crisis and the food industry’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.
The moves came after Britain’s first ever food industry investment summit, organised by campaign group The Food Foundation. The event included contributions from Richard Walker the executive chairman of Iceland Foods, and leading investment experts from HSBC, BNP Paribas Asset Management and CCLA, Britain’s largest charity investment manager.
Stuart Landrum, Head of Product and Process for the supermarket chain Iceland Foods, delivered a strong message written by Richard Walker, the company’s executive chairman: “To achieve societal change, we need to get the whole food industry working together under a strong, clear and consistent government lead,” he said. “When governments do intervene, their actions need to be well thought-through and well-implemented, encouraging consumers to make a positive change to their eating habits rather than just hitting people in their pockets.”
According to the Food Foundation, investors are increasingly concerned about the impact of business as usual as the food system is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. The organisation says diet, food production and farming methods must all change if Britain is to meet its 2030 targets to combat global warming.
“We are only growing a third of the fruit and vegetables in the world that are needed to allow everyone to eat a healthy diet, and about twelve times too much sugar,” said Professor Tim Benton, research director of emerging risks at Chatham House. “We need to think about how we can work with politicians to get market restructuring right so the incentives are in the right places to make the food that people ought to be eating more available and cheaper and the food they shouldn’t be eating less available and more expensive. That requires a radical change.”
“Government regulation creates the right incentives for the right things to happen,” said Anna Taylor executive director of The Food Foundation. “That’s the call to action for us. We are delighted with the response to this event and the level of support it has generated. These are forward thinking investors who recognise the risks to their assets, and that business as usual is no longer an option.”