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Our food system needs an overhaul. Let’s start now: A corporate view

Unilever’s ice cream brands   credit

At the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Amanda Sourry President, Global Foods for Unilever presented her company’s views on how food companies need to change.  Excerpts from her talk:

At Unilever, we are committed to sustainable nutrition – to food that is both made and consumed sustainably. For us this means producing safe, high-quality, nutritious food that is accessible to all, with respect for the environment and less waste, benefiting the livelihoods of food growers and helping to improve the nutrition and well being of consumers. We recognize the role we have to play as one of the largest food companies in the world to help redesign the global food system, so that it can provide a growing world population with healthy food from a healthy planet….

We must also recognize, however, that the “broken food system” has resulted in a lack of consumer trust in “big food” companies. An external environment shaped by confusing, complicated and sometimes even contradictory nutrition guidance means that consumer trust in science and in scientific experts has often been diminished. It is not enough to fix the system that provides the food we eat, we must also rebuild consumer trust in the food industry, so that we can empower consumers to make healthier and more sustainable food choices every day.

Players in the food industry need to ensure that they are putting consumer health first and foremost when considering corporate policies towards issues like food labelling and marketing to children, and ensuring their activities encourage responsible consumption, so that healthier choices become easier choices for consumers.

Additionally, recognizing the impact of global climate change on the agriculture system, we big food companies must continue to make climate-smart interventions along supply chains, and encourage consumers to transition to more plant-based nutrition…We cannot achieve such massive transformation to the global food system alone. That’s why I think that of all the Sustainable Development Goals, Number 17 – Partnerships for the Goals – is the most important. No single organization can fundamentally change our food system: collaboration, co-creation and partnerships with a variety of stakeholders are key. From the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative, to the Alliance for Good Breakfast in Kenya – a partnership between the UN World Food Programme, GAIN, the Health and Education Ministries and our fortified Blue Band spreads – we seek to collaborate with like-minded organizations to create food that tastes good, does good and doesn’t cost the earth…By mobilizing like-minded partners to view the food system holistically from production to consumption, I believe we can co-develop a new global food system that provides universal access to healthy, nutritious food, grown sustainably, while at the same time protecting the natural environment, improving livelihoods of producers and suppliers, and the health of consumers as well. I’d like to think that now is the time, in the spirit of responsive and responsible leadership, for us to come together to do just that.

For the full text, click here.