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Investors call for Government action on National Food Strategy’s recommendations

15th Dec 2021 - 06:00
A coalition of 18 institutional investors published an open letter calling on the UK Government to ‘demonstrate leadership and ambition’ in its whitepaper response to the National Food Strategy’s recommendations for promoting a healthier and more sustainable food system.

The coalition, led by Rathbone Greenbank Investments, represents over £3 trillion in assets under management and is calling on the UK Government to: 

  • Introduce new legislation on mandatory reporting of sales-weighted metrics, as recommended in the National Food Strategy.
  • Consider the full range of regulatory tools at its disposal – including fiscal interventions and enhanced regulation - to promote sustainability in the food system. 
  • Be bold and ambitious in its response to this major social and environmental challenge. 

The investor group believes that well-designed regulation can create an essential enabling environment for businesses seeking to build long-term thinking and sustainability into their business models.

Although some businesses are reporting on healthy and sustainable food voluntarily, there is a notable lack of consistency in how metrics are being reported and some sectors are further behind.

For example, analysis from the Food Foundation shows that while five out of 11 UK supermarkets have now set targets for reporting on healthier food sales targets, only two report on the percentage of their protein sales that come from animal versus plant-based sources: a shift that is urgently needed for the UK to meet net zero targets.

Anna Taylor, executive director at The Food Foundation, said: “Taking action on the National Food Strategy’s recommendations must be a priority for the UK. Not only is our health worsening, with public spending on obesity-related ill health set to keep rising, but we will not be able to meet our climate commitments without acting on sustainable food.

“We urgently need consistency in how food businesses report on health and sustainability metrics, to ensure that we have clear, industry-wide evidence of how the food sector is transitioning to healthier and more sustainable food sales. To achieve that, we need government and investors to work together and help drive this shift to regular and transparent reporting.”

 The full list of signatories to the letter include:

  • Rathbone Greenbank Investments
  • Castlefield Investment Partners LLP
  • CCLA
  • Aviva Investors
  • EOS at Federated Hermes (on behalf of its stewardship clients)
  • Legal & General Investment Management
  • Rathbones
  • Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation
  • Newton Investment Management Ltd
  • BMO Global Asset management (EMEA), part of Columbia Threadneedle Investments 
  • The Health Foundation 
  • Valori Asset Management
  • Australian Ethical Investment
  • U Ethical Investors
  • Capital Fund Management
  • EdenTree Investment Management Ltd
  • Phoenix Group
  • The Food Foundation
  • ShareAction

Read the full letter here

Written by
Edward Waddell