A report published today (10 September) by the green group in partnership with the Food Ethics Council urges businesses to accelerate their contribution to addressing sustainable food security by understanding where food is sourced from and sold to, as well as exploring actions for the benefit of a wider society.

Additionally, companies should only consider commercial benefits alongside social benefits of sustainable food security and encourage support of food security goals in the wider business environment, the report states.

WWF-UK expert on sustainable food security Duncan Williamson said: “It’s heartening to see that more companies are grappling with the issues of sustainable food systems, but if we’re all to reap the benefits, they need to act boldly, and quickly.”

A limited knowledge of how to deal with issues associated with food production – such as growing demand, climate change, deforestation, water management, fossil fuel dependence, soil fertility and biodiversity loss – further increases the risks to business, WWF-UK points out.

The widespread perception of the food security challenge among businesses is still limited to needing more food, it added, failing to include “equally-important” aspects such as access to food and environmental impacts of food from field to fork.

Government action

The report also has a political focus for the UK; claiming that businesses want to see equally-bold actions from to Conservative Government, to create a more sustainable food system.

With the world’s population and inequality in calorific intake looking only set to increase, several previous reports have concluded with a similar sense of urgency around the issue of food security. In February last year, researchers from the University of Bath and University of Loughborough warned that Britain’s food supply would become increasingly susceptible to global water shortages.

Some large food and drink corporations have been vocal in the need to address the issue. Last June, the world’s second-largest brewer SABMiller launched a new initiative branded ‘Prosper’ which aimed to tackle five ‘shared imperatives’, including improving food security.

The brewer said it plans to address issues of food security and sustainable land use to create a secure supply chain by helping local farmers to improve barley yields per hectare and reducing the required inputs of water, energy and fertiliser.

In the same month, Nestlé chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe urged ‘wasteful’ supply chains to tackle food and water losses, pointing out that present wastage is the equivalent of more than 1,000 cubic kilometres of freshwater abstracted per year, i.e. close to 25% of total estimated global withdrawals for human use in 2005.

edie staff

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