June 23, 2011, London, NYC – A new report from SustainAbility reveals that experts from leading food, technology and finance companies agree that the food sector is failing. Published today, Appetite for Change goes on to set out a vision for what needs to happen next.
“We have to realize that the basic thinking of economies of scale has to go; [we have] to develop solutions that will impact not only one company but also consumers and society as a whole,” says Jose Lopez, Executive VP of Operations at Nestlé.
Signs of failure in the current food system are increasingly difficult to ignore:
- Recent E. coli outbreaks in Germany highlight safety and security lapses in the supply chain;
- 925 million people are malnourished while another billion are chronically obese; and
- Over half of the world’s farmers suffer chronic hunger.
“We still have a long way to go,” says Patrick Medley from IBM’s Smarter Planet, Smarter Food program. “The food industry currently is operating at a 6 out of 10. The challenge is how we move upwards from a 6 … I don’t think there’s enough going on that’s fast enough.”
Appetite for Change uncovers a disturbing disconnect in the way corporate and non-corporate actors are tackling food security issues. The biggest source of innovation is occurring outside the corporate sector, with multilateral institutions like the UN calling for a radically new ecological approach to agriculture. Conversely the energy of the food companies is focused on squeezing more out of current approaches, which are inherently unsustainable.
Industry leaders now acknowledge that it is incumbent upon them to find ways to be part of a holistic solution – both for market advantage and to meet societal goals – but say that the path forward is not clear. By way of response, Appetite for Change sets out a new agenda to help the food sector and its partners chart a collaborative course toward a sustainable food system.
For further insight and examples of organisations that are pursuing creative approaches to making the food system more sustainable, download the full report at sustainability.com().