Sustainable Food Production

The Issue

Sustainable food production and distribution is a foundation for strong economies. The FAO estimates that food production needs to increase 70% by 2050 to meet global needs. In some parts of the world people struggle to obtain enough food to survive, and trade in commodities and agricultural land threatens food security. Meanwhile, other countries face a looming health crisis as obesity rates increase, including among children. Environmental, social and product safety risks create a multitude of concerns across and along the worldwide food supply chain, ranging from threats to pollinating insects and the environmental impacts of agricultural inputs, through deforestation for palm oil cultivation, to human rights abuses against migrant workers on farms and fishing boats, and mistreatment of farm animals. A vast proportion of food produced is wasted before or after it reaches the consumer.

ESG Perspective

The food and beverage supply chain consists of several stages, including agricultural inputs, agricultural production, food and beverage processing and manufacturing, retailing and restaurants, and waste management. Environmental and social concerns present both reputational and operational risks to the value of companies. High-profile brands can be damaged by product safety incidents, animal welfare scandals or the exposure of poor sustainability practices in the supply chain. Willing, contented workers are essential to ensuring a reliable supply of high-quality agricultural produce. Companies that do not respond to changing tastes and consumer interest in better nutrition will face challenges — evidenced by the decline in the soda market in North America and Europe.

Our Response

We engage companies in dialogue on:

  • Supply chain management

  • Protecting the environment in production and sourcing of agricultural commodities

  • Respect for the human and labour rights of agricultural workers

  • The welfare of farm animals

  • Waste reduction

  • Making it easier to find nutritious food in all communities, and improving the nutritional content of food & beverage products

We are signatory to the Access to Nutrition Index Investor Statement.

We engage with regulators and standards-setters on food sustainability issues.