Eighteen investors have written an open letter asking the UK Government to demonstrate better leadership and intent in achieving the recommendations set out in the National Food Strategy.
The coalition of investors have called for the implementation of obligatory reporting on nutritional and sustainability metrics for large-scale food companies.
Part of their call-to-action letter includes:
- New legislation on mandatory reporting of sales-weighted metrics, recommended by the NFS
- Make this legislation applicable to British retailers, restaurants, caterers, wholesalers, manufacturers, and online food ordering platforms, which all have at least 250 employees
- An integration of mandatory reporting in relation to progress surrounding the Good Food Nation Bill, introduced by the Scottish government in October of this year.
- Enforcing mandatory reporting using metrics that include a monitoring of the sales of high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) foods, sales of protein by type (e.g. normal meats or meat alternatives), sales of fruit and vegetables and food waste.
Not enough consistent reporting is being done by some food sectors, the investors note in their letter. There also isn’t enough published data about food industry practices available, which the group say make it difficult for them to see clearly how many, if any, targets are being reached.
The Food Foundation noted in a report earlier this year that still only five out of 11 major supermarkets currently have targets for the sales of healthy or healthier foods.
The coalition of investors was led by Rathone Greenbank Investments, and represents over £3 trillion in assets under management.
Senior Ethical, Sustainable and Impact Researcher at Rathbone Greenbank Investments, Sophie Lawrence, said: “A key challenge for investors to date has been the lack of consistent, high quality and meaningful information on the nutrition and environmental performance of companies within the food sector. While there are examples of good practice in individual disclosures, a lack of common metrics means investors are often limited in our ability to direct capital toward the companies which are taking a proactive and leading approach to sustainability issues. We therefore welcome the recommendation of clear and consistent mandatory reporting requirements for companies in the food sector.”
Several investment firms already wrote an open letter to Prime Ministeer Boris Johnson back in July, calling for the Government to revaluate the 2018 sugar tax, to implement mandatory food sales reporting for large food companies, and finalise a suitable budget of agricultural payments for the next eight years to help farmers engage in more sustainable farming practices.