UK Govt. sets out goals for a sustainable food industry

UK - A strategy to tackle the impact of the food industry on precious resources, such as energy and water, and its contribution to climate change, was published by Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, today.
calendar icon 26 April 2006
clock icon 4 minute read

The Food Industry Sustainability Strategy has been developed in partnership with the food and drink industry and others. It aims to improve the industry's environmental, social and economic performance, by developing a strong partnership between government and industry. It addresses all sectors of the food industry, beyond the farm gate to the consumer's plate.

The strategy's ambitions are for the industry as a whole to:

  • reduce its carbon emissions by 20% by 2010 against a 1990 baseline;
  • reduce water use by 10-15% by 2010 and by 20-25% in the South East of England;
  • significantly reduce the environmental and social costs of its domestic food transportation by 2012; and
  • the food manufacturing sector to reduce its food waste by 15-20% by 2010.
Mrs Beckett said:

“As an industry the food sector has a significant role to play in achieving a sustainable future for this country .

“There are many ways this can be done – whether it is by minimising packaging, making food transportation more efficient or reducing the amount of water the industry uses in its processes..

“Rising energy and water prices, not to mention the increasingly self-evident consequences of climate change, are timely reminders of the need for action.

“Sustainability requires behavioural changes, in particular the widespread adoption of best practice. We all have a role to play in meeting the challenge of sustainability.

“The Strategy will provide a framework for the food and drink sector to play its part by making sustainability its goal. It must be viewed as the beginning of a process - not the end.”

Closer working between industry and Government best practice programmes, such as the Carbon Trust, Envirowise and the Waste Resources Action Programme, will underpin the strategy. E ach programme has previously been provided with increased funding, including through the Business Resource Efficiency Waste (BREW) programme, to enable them to support the growing demand for their services.

Industry-led Champions' Groups will help to take forward work on: energy; water; waste; food transportation; corporate social responsibility; and ethical trading and a Programme Board will be established under Lord Bach, Minister for Sustainable Farming and Food, to oversee the Strategy's implementation.

The Strategy also aims to drive up performance in the areas of ethical trading, health and safety and equal opportunities - as well as science and innovation, workforce skills and the sector's efforts to reduce retail crime. Priorities include:
  • doubling the amount or percentage of food in supermarkets covered by ethical trading schemes by 2008;
  • halving the level of under-representation of women and ethnic minorities in skilled and administrative and managerial grades in the industry by 2010, benchmarked against their representation in the labour force;
  • cutting all deaths and serious injuries per thousand workers in the food and drink industry by 10% by 2010;
  • reducing by 40% the number of adult workers in the food retail and manufacturing sectors who lack qualifications at NVQ level 2 and above by 2010 against a 2003 baseline; and
  • helping to improve the nation's nutrition and health, as set out in the 2004 Public Health White Paper;
  • helping to reduce food borne illness, as set out in the FSA's 2005-2010 Strategic Plan.
A Food Industry Better Regulation Group will act as a high level forum through which industry and Government can work to improve the quality of regulation and enforcement impacting upon the food industry.

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