Investment firms write open letter to Boris Johnson calling for implementation of National Food Strategy recommendations

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AUTHOR: Tilly St Aubyn
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A group of investment firms have written an open letter to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, urging him to act on the recent National Food Strategy’s proposals to achieve a healthier and more sustainable food system in the UK. Headed by Rathbone Greenbank Investments, the letter alludes to many of the issues addressed in the National Food Strategy including food waste, nutrition, sustainable supply chains and obesity. It encourages the Government to address these issues by using the Strategy’s recommendations and to be bold in its approach. 

The investors “call on the Government to demonstrate clear leadership and ambition in its response to National Food Strategy in order to create a food system that promotes health and wellbeing for the entire population while preserving and enhancing the environmental systems on which we all rely.” 

The National Food Strategy, published on Thursday 15 July, has outlined 14 comprehensive recommendations including the introduction a salt and the reformulation of the 2018’s sugar tax; mandatory food sales reporting for large food companies; investment in innovation and guaranteeing of the budget for agricultural payments until at least 2029 to help farmers transition to more sustainable land use. 

Investors who signed the letter sent to the Prime Minister on 15 July include Aviva Investors, Newton Asset Management, Legal & General Investment Management, EOS at Federated Hermes, Castlefield Investment Partners LLP and Rathbone Greenbank Investors. Together, the firms represent £2.8 trillion of assets under management (AUM) and are joined in their plea to the Prime Minister by charities ShareAction, Guy’s and St Thomas’s Foundation and The Food Foundation.  

The letter pays tribute to the Food Foundation’s Plating Up Progress initiative along with ShareAction’s Healthy Market investor coalition, both of which the investors claim to have been helpful business resources in their decision-making processes. It proposes that the Government utilises similar strategies in its approach to tackle the health and environmental crisis threatening the UK food system. 

“Given the urgency of the issues linked to the way we produce and consume food, we encourage the government to consider the full range of available regulatory tools to embed long-term sustainability within the food system.” , the letter states.

Kate Elliott, head of ethical, sustainable and impact research at Rathbone Greenbank Investments said in a recent article in Investment Week“The food system is a major driver of climate change and biodiversity loss. At the same time, the incidence of overweight and obesity – a key risk factor in cases of severe Covid-19 – is rising across the world and awareness is growing of labour rights concerns in global food chains. 

“These sustainability challenges present severe risks to the way in which the world produces, processes and consumes food. It is clear that the food system in its current state is unsustainable and ambitious action is needed to realign it to work for people and planet.” 

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