Select Committee on Environmental Audit Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex 1

World Summit on Sustainable Development 2002 UK Food and Drink Sector: FDF Interim Report


  The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) represents the interests of the UK food and drink manufacturing industry. FDF comprises a diverse range of trade associations representing all types of companies, from large international food and drink manufacturers through to smaller companies manufacturing new organic products. FDF addresses every aspect of food and drink manufacturing, from sourcing raw materials to processing, packaging, labelling and distribution. We promote the industry's views to Government, the EU and other opinion formers.

  This Report reviews progress by the UK food and drink industry in tackling sustainable development issues since Rio 1992. It is intended to serve as a basis for discussion with a wide range of stakeholders and opinion formers in the run up to the next United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development being held in Johannesburg, South Africa in September 2002. The Report is structured according to the Government's four sustainable development objectives namely:

    —  Social progress which recognises the needs of everyone.

    —  Effective protection of the environment.

    —  Prudent use of natural resources; and

    —  Maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment.

  Part 1 comprises the Executive Summary and Introduction to FDF.

  Part 2 presents a detailed review along with examples of how the food and drink industry is addressing the Government's four key sustainable development objectives and compromises four subsections:

    —  Part 2.1 covers improvements made in public health, food quality, food diversity and nutrition (diet and health); communication initiatives taken by the industry, including information programmes and labelling; action taken to address the needs of local communities; relations between food and drink manufacturers and other stakeholders, including employees and suppliers, investors, NGOs etc.

    —  Part 2.2 discusses environmental regulations and policies, including how the industry is pursuing initiatives that go beyond legal requirements; it also reviews management systems, including environmental management systems, control of accidental releases and how environmental considerations are taken into account in the food supply chain.

    —  Part 2.3 discusses how FDF members work to ensure the optimum use of natural resources, including recycling and recovery where appropriate, in sourcing raw materials, in manufacturing and in packaging.

    —  Part 2.4 discusses the composition and structure of the food and drink manufacturing industry, the contribution it makes to the UK economy and its diversity.

  Part 3 addresses some of the many challenges facing the industry namely: consumer desire for "purer" food, endocrine disruption, GMOs, sustainable agriculture and transportation.

  Part 4 presents the conclusions of the review namely:

    —  The food and drink industry lies at the very heart of sustainability as food production sustains the world's population.

    —  Companies within the food and drink sector are committed to minimising the environmental impact of their activities and working towards the objective of long term sustainability.

    —  The industry is already taking initiatives which go significantly beyond legal requirements (eg environmental reporting, environmental management systems, sharing good practice, voluntary codes and agreements, community investment).

    —  FDF is seeking to increase its understanding of what sustainable development means in practice for the food and drink manufacturing sector, particularly in terms of the UK Government's four defining objectives; and to raise awareness of the issues amongst its membership. FDF is actively participating in the current debate, at a UK, European and international level; and is proposing to develop guidelines for the food and drink industry on practical measures that can be taken by manufacturing companies. Work is underway to develop Key Performance Indicators which companies can use to measure and report on their performance.

    —  FDF considers it important that sustainable development policy is taken forward holistically based on the social, environmental and economic dimensions: these are inextricably linked and cannot be addressed in isolation.

    —  FDF also recognises that sustainable development must similarly be considered in a holistic sense by all parts of the food supply/use/disposal chain—farmers, manufacturers, retailers, consumers and waste disposal companies.

    —  The importance of maintaining and enhancing public trust and confidence in the safety, wholesomeness and quality of the food supply cannot be overstated and underlines the importance of measures put in place by the industry to meet this objective.

    —  The range and nature of products provided by the food and drink industry is a reflection of demographic trends and what consumers want to buy. The contribution that consumers can therefore make, through their purchasing decisions, to achieving sustainable food production and consumption should not be underestimated. Raising consumer awareness of the issues involved, to enable consumers to make informed choices, should therefore be a key part of the overall strategy.

  In compiling this Report we have contacted a range of other stakeholders to improve our understanding of what sustainable development means in practice to the broader community. It is intended to serve as a basis for further such discussions in the run up to, and in conjunction with, the Johannesburg Summit. As part of this process, FDF would be delighted to receive comments on the Report. As the food and drink industry lies at the heart of sustainability, in supplying the world's population with food, FDF is committed to making an active contribution to the current debate. We are working to develop a series of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for sustainable development that are relevant for the manufacture of food and drink. The widespread adoption of such KPIs would enable the sector to measure and report on progress achieved towards sustainable development.

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