UK’s FDF: Sustainability makes good sense

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 1st April 2011

World on a PlateThe UK’s Food and Drink Federation has called on the food industry to take a holistic approach to reducing waste and improving efficiency.

Speaking today at the Westminster Food and Nutrition Forum, FDF director of sustainability and competitiveness Andrew Kuyk said that, to date, food manufacturers have taken an approach to sustainability that focuses on reducing waste and improving resource efficiency within their own operations.

“This has been an easy sell,” he suggested. “Resource efficiency makes good business sense.”

However, food manufacturers only account for 13% of the carbon footprint resulting from food production, with the largest amount of waste being produced “either side” of manufactures, either on the farm or in the home.

Kuyk insisted that it is therefore the responsibility of food makers to promote environmentally accountable attitudes throughout the supply chain by promoting responsible sourcing and consumption policies.

To achieve this, he said, the food chain must take shared responsibility for its overall impact on the environment and work in collaboration to reduce waste in the food production process.

According to Kuyk’s assessment, this will not be achieved through a consumer-led approach to environmental issues in food production.

“You can’t rely on a consumer-driven model to solve this – with information on packs etcetera – because you need to understand the whole chain,” he suggested.

Because the promotion of waste reduction is a complex process that must be looked at across the supply chain it requires collaboration between suppliers, manufacturers and retailers and should be delivered to the consumer more as a fait accompli, Kuyk indicated.

This attitude flies in the face of the approach championed in London this afternoon by the UK’s Department for Food and Rural Affairs.

“We are quite clear that action isn’t just for DEFRA or government,” Dr Katherine Riggs, deputy director for EU and international food policy at DEFRA told the Westminster Forum. “We are committed to collaborating with the whole food chain and that includes consumers. It is really important that we empower consumers to make the right decisions.”