The food and drink sector is on track to meet net-zero targets but there are still challenges

11 March 2022, 08:33 AM
  • According to the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), the food and drink sector is delivering on its net-zero ambition according to Ambition 2025 progress report – but there is still work to be done
The food and drink sector is on track to meet net-zero targets but there are still challenges

The FDF has announced during Food Waste Action Week that members of the Federation have continued to significantly reduce carbon emissions and water consumption, as part of the sector’s Ambition 2025 commitment to reduce the environmental impact.

The Ambition 2025 progress report showcases the progress made by the food and drink industry in all our target areas – from food waste to transport to natural capital – to create a more sustainable food supply chain.

Since 1990 FDF members have lowered CO2 emissions by 58%, and cut water consumption by 39.4%, successfully contributing to an industry-wide target to reduce water use by 20%.

The problem of packaging
However, the FDF argues that while the work of its members is extremely important, this isn’t enough. The sector needs to collaborate with government departments and other partners across the farm to fork food chain to create a truly sustainable food system that is fit for the future. 

Therefore, the FDF is urging the UK government to ensure legislation continues to allow chemically recycled plastic to be used in food packaging and for it to be recognised in the plastic packaging tax mass balance calculations.

Nicki Hunt, director of sustainability at the Food & Drink Federation explained: “Food and drink manufacturers continue to work hard to ensure that we are firmly on the road to Net Zero as well as reducing our environmental impact by improving our water efficiency and in taking significant steps to improve the recyclability of our packaging. 

“This is critical for the sustainability of our sector in the short, medium and longer-term, and we know how important this action is for consumers, communities and our own employees.”

Shaking up the supply chain
But it’s not just packaging that needs addressing. Vicki Hird, head of farming at Sustain argues that we also need to make changes at the start of the supply chain, by providing farmers with the means to transform their industry. 

She explains: “Sustain welcomes the food industry’s ongoing efforts - it’s vital to address climate change and water protection in their operations. The challenge is, however, to tackle these issues in supply chains whilst also providing decent livelihoods in farming, something that is not happening now as farmers get less than 10% of overall food spend. Farmers need to transform the production to be water, nature and climate-friendly, but that’s hard with consistently low returns and poor contracts.”

Gareth Morgan, head of farming policy at the Soil Association agreed: “We are facing climate and nature crises that threaten all of our futures and the government needs to wake up and implement agroecological, nature-friendly farming as part of the solution. And we need fairer, shorter supply chains that prioritise nutritious food over cheap, ultra-processed food. We must stop signing trade deals that undercut our farmers by allowing imports that contribute to wiping out nature abroad.”

While the food and drink sector has already made huge changes and is on track to deliver on targets set out to mitigate climate disasters, it appears that a supply-chain overhaul may be needed to fully address the issues at hand and create a better system for everyone.

more like this
close stay up-to-date with our free newsletter | expert intel | tailored industry news | new-to-know trend analysis | sign up | speciality food daily briefing