Investors call for food sustainability standards

The Investor Coalition on UK Food Policy, a group of 23 investors managing investment assets of £6tr, has called on the Government to commit to mandatory health and sustainability standards for food companies.

The coalition, led by Rathbone Greenbank Investments and supported by Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation, CCLA, Legal and General Investment Management, EdenTree Investment Management, Nomura Asset Management and Newton Investment Management, has combined total assets of £6 trillion under management or under advice, and is being supported by The Food Foundation, an independent think tank dedicated to upgrading national food policy in the UK.

The leaders of the investor group have welcomed the Government’s commitment to improving food industry reporting standards but say the proposals do not go far enough.

The Government should insist on mandatory not voluntary reporting mechanisms, they say. Voluntary schemes potentially lead to weaker reporting standards and potentially inconsistent metrics, making it difficult to compare and track progress both between businesses and across the industry.

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 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 coalition supports the plan for a multistakeholder Food Data Transparency Partnership to agree what should be reported and says the unique long-term perspective of the investment community should form a central pillar in this partnership. It also expects to see more detail in the upcoming Health Disparities white paper. The National Food Strategy (published last July) was the first independent farm to fork review of England’s entire food system in 75 years. It proposed a major reconfiguration of the current food system to deliver better health and environmental outcomes.

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