Blog: Dean BestClimate change - food's good work needs to continue

Dean Best | 7 December 2009

It is one of the busiest times of the year for the food industry but, for at least a few days this December, another C-word will be on everyone's lips - Copenhagen.

Far be it from this column to spend the next five minutes trying to convince the "flat-earth" brigade out there of the importance of the climate change summit (we'll leave the soapbox to this editorial, which was published this morning in over 50 newspapers around the world).

However, it would be unwise in the extreme to allow a little local debate over emails to divert us and our political leaders from the need for action. And action now.

Indeed, food manufacturers and retailers around the world have been busy demonstrating just how vital it is for the industry and consumers to reduce their impact on the environment.

Of course, there is an element of enlightened self-interest in their actions - often, green means low-cost - but the raft of programmes and initiatives launched by our sector in recent years demands significant time, resources and - crucially - investment.

What's more, data from the IGD claims more than eight in ten FMCG companies have either increased or held steady their investment on green issues during the last, turbulent, 12 months.

Of course, much more needs to be done by the food sector to help the environment but there have been many laudable green initiatives from companies big and small, of which the industry should be proud.

The food industry does, however, need to remember the vital role it plays in informing the public on green issues.

Consumers look to the owners of their favourite brands and to their regular supermarkets for guidance on the environment.

Simple and easy-to-understand messages, which although often difficult to achieve given the complexity of the issues involved, are vital.

There may be differences over how fast suppliers and retailers are tackling their impact on climate change, as well as debate over which parts of the supply chain should carry the cost burden, but like the politicians in Copenhagen, the food industry cannot afford to sit on its hands. The good work already achieved needs to continue.

Sorry, we couldn't resist the soapbox.


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