Sustainability is becoming ever-more crucial for food companies and, this week, the hot topic was palm oil. The WWF issued a report praising those who had moves to source greener palm oil - but castigated those who hadn't. Smart Choices, a US food labelling scheme devised to help consumers, was similarly rebuked for promoting fatty foods. And, all the while, executives from Fresh Del Monte Produce to Chiquita Brands International and Kellogg handed down their insights on the economic and business landscape.

"Frankly, there really isn't much of an excuse. At the very least, companies do need to sort out the supply chain and they do need to start buying the stuff" - Adam Harrison (pictured), senior food and agriculture policy officer, WWF.

"Our investment in our UK palm oil refinery is all about giving consumers the assurance that the products that they want to buy can now actually be made from affordable, segregated, traceable and certified sustainable palm oil, which New Britain Palm Oil believes is often a better alternative to certificate trading schemes, such as GreenPalm" - Alan Chaytor, executive director of New Britain Palm Oil.

"Food manufacturers rightly recognised our serious concerns about a programme that promotes fat-saturated mayonnaise and sugar-laden cereals as smart" - Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

"In the economic picture I don't believe we will see a significantly better economy in 2010 than in 2009 and that impacts our whole business" - Fresh Del Monte chairman and CEO Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh.

"The current economic recession has surfaced new challenges such as the temptation of customers to try private-label products," Chiquita chairman and CEO Fernando Aguirre.

"Last year in Q3 the [US cereal] category grew 5-6% and this year it grew 2-3%. As we start lapping some of the pricing impact, I think 2-3% is probably more consistent with our expectations for the future" - Kellogg CEO David Mackay.

"The market fundamentals are all pointing to significantly better prices for milk and dairy products and we are demanding that milk processors quickly share improving returns with those who supply them with milk" - Jim McLaren, president of the National Farmers Union in Scotland.

"I believe we've made a great start. My dream is to see every piece of chocolate worldwide made with cocoa from certified farms," Pascal Bourdin, senior vice president of Kraft Foods and general manager of its European chocolate business.

"If you look at Russia, if my calculations are right, I think we are down on volume 25-30% in the quarter and most of that has to do with the economic downturn and the problems with the Russian economy" - Rieber & Søn CEO Patrik Andersson.

"The management believes that the company's value retail business now demands a focused approach for further growth and expansion" - Pantaloon Retail MD Kishore Biyani.