More than three billion people around the world cannot afford a healthy diet. Meanwhile the global food production system is contributing over 25% of the planet’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Today marks World Food Day, a moment to generate awareness and action on responsible food production and consumption within the global agri-food system to create better nutrition, a better environment and better lives. It rounds off a week in which we held CGF’s Sustainable Retail Summit 2021 which brought sector leaders together to discuss how the industry can create healthy, sustainable food systems as part of this year’s theme – “acting today to shape tomorrow.”  

The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) has been an important platform to foster the collaboration within our sector that is required to tackle these intertwining social and environmental issues. As a sector we recognise that our leadership is vital to deliver the UN Sustainability Goals – specifically here; zero hunger, good health and well-being, and responsible consumption and production. That is why we are continuing to drive collaboration across food systems to accelerate progress on a wide range of areas including:

Healthier diets: Worldwide, over two billion people are overweight or obese. The prevalence of diabetes is expected to increase by nearly 50% from 2017 to 2045, and the number of people over 60 years of age is set to triple by 2100 to almost three billion.

Our Collaboration for Healthier Lives Coalition was set up to make it easier for consumers to adopt healthier lifestyles for themselves and their families. The Workforce Nutrition Alliance, which we co-founded with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, is supporting companies to adopt nutrition programmes that will have a positive impact on millions of employees. Given the reach and influence of our membership this could be truly transformative.

Cutting food waste: A third of all food that’s produced for humans is never eaten – that amounts to 1.3 billion tonnes of food per year globally. The Food Waste Coalition brings together 21 of the world’s largest retailers and manufacturers to cut food loss at retailer and consumer levels. Our members are currently working to align on the most effective methods of measurement and reporting, supply chain engagement and loss prevention.

Embracing circularity: A key priority at CGF has been the development of packaging standards. Our Plastic Waste Coalition members have recently finalised the complete series of “Golden Design Rules”, for the design of plastic packaging, created to accelerate progress towards using less and better plastic. These rules focus on eliminating unnecessary plastic packaging and all our members have been asked to voluntarily commit to implement these design changes by 2025 and to report annually on progress, in a process aligned with the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment.

Taking deforestation out of the supply chain: According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), agri-food production has been the primary driver of three-quarters of global deforestation to date. At New York Climate Week in September 2021, we launched the Forest Positive Coalition’s first Annual Report, marking the first time that member businesses have aligned on a set of key KPIs that will enable them to monitor and report on their journeys to becoming forest positive businesses.

Ultimately, we need sustainable agri-food systems that are capable of nourishing 10 billion people by 2050. That is the mission, but it will be no easy feat. We know that the only way to deliver on this is through putting competition aside and collaborating to generate actionable strategies.

Today has been an important day for reflection both in terms of progress made and challenges ahead. I am proud of the coalitions we are developing but we must work even more closely and swiftly within the sector and I look forward to doubling down on our work with our membership to build the sustainable food systems of the future.