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Dairy cows

Why it's important

Producing the food we need to feed a growing population is wreaking havoc on the planet. From the huge amount of land that is needed for agriculture and livestock, to the water and natural resources that are required, through to the emissions caused in transportation and packaging. Every part of the food chain has an environmental footprint.

Food production is one of the biggest threats to our environment

50%

of all habitable land on the planet is used for agriculture

70%

of the planet’s accessible water is used in agriculture

30%

of human-made greenhouse gas emissions are caused by food production

60%

of global diversity loss is caused by the food system

Time to act

The world now faces  the triple challenge of avoiding irreversible damage from climate change, feeding a growing population and restoring nature. We cannot rise to these challenges without fixing the food system.

But changing something of this size and scale is fraught with complexities.

The UK has lost habitats critical for biodiversity and carbon storage. And, every year, an area of land totalling 21.3 million hectares – the same as 88% of the UK’s land area - is required overseas each year, to satisfy the UK’s demand for seven agricultural commodities, four of which are key parts of our food system (beef, cocoa, palm oil and soy).

Sustainable future

WWF believes urgent action is needed and that businesses and organisations at the heart of the food industry have a responsibility to transform the sustainability of our food. If we can reduce the environmental footprint of the food we eat, the UK can show global leadership and help to drive change around the world.

Get your business involved

Shopping basket

Sustainable basket metric

All food companies have a responsibility to help fix the food system. Change needs to happen across the food production chain, from field to plate. WWF, along with our partner Tesco, have set out an approach to identify the most pressing issues in the food system and what needs to be done to address them.  Together, we have set an ambitious aim to halve the environmental impact of the average UK shopping basket. To track the progress of this we have developed the Sustainable Basket Metric.

Focus areas

The Sustainable Basket Metric focuses on seven of the most urgent and devastating environmental issues the food system has an impact on: climate change, deforestation, sustainable agriculture, marine sustainability, packaging, food waste and consumer diets. Under each of these areas sit several sub-metrics that represent the priority areas for intervention to drive change, for example reducing methane from cattle to tackle climate change; or ensuring that water resources in key fruit and veg sourcing regions are managed sustainably.

The progress being made on many of the sub-metrics is tracked via some of the most frequently-bought products. For example, milk and beef are used to track whether methane emissions from cattle are being reduced.

Find out more about the seven focus areas below:

Invaluable partnerships

With Tesco we can postively impact the food system, but to truly transform it we need to work together as an industry. We want to encourage food companies to be more transparent and publish credible data on environmental issues. By doing this, companies can help transform the long-term resiliency of the food system, and futureproof thier business aganist the impacts of environmental change.

Tractor in a field

Get your business involved

If you work in the food industry it is likely your business is encountering the same challenges as other companies in the sector when it comes to tackling systemic environmental issues. WWF wants to support your business and aid collaboration to bring about the change that is urgently needed in the food system.

Here are three ways you can get involved:

1. Be transparent

You can’t manage what you can’t measure, which is why metrics are vital. There is a lack of consistent and credible industry-wide data to help drive change in the food system. We need greater transparency and accountability from the food industry, and your business can help by publishing credible data on the seven environmental issues identified in the Sustainable Basket Metric. By being transparent, companies are levelling the playing field, which leads to greater collaboration and ultimately helps everyone to find the solutions they need.

 

2. Use the Sustainable Basket Metric

The Sustainable Basket Metric can help your business to identify and target some of the key areas for action in the food system. Used as a framework, it can encourage transparency, inspire collaboration and support your journey to tackle the seven urgent environmental issues impacted by food production. A summary of the Sustainable Basket Metric methodology is available here.

 

3. Get in contact

We recognise that cross-sector collaboration is the most effective way to bring about the type of environmental change that is needed. Let us know if you would like to collaborate on any of these issues with the wider industry.  Get in touch to find out how you can apply the metrics within your business and to be kept up to date with the latest progress.

Please contact: business@wwf.org.uk.