That was the verdict of Leendert Staal, president and chief executive officer of DSM Nutritional Products, a division of global ingredients firm DSM. Speaking at the DSM Nutritional Products Conference '2020: Nourish, Protect and Improve' in Interlaken, Switzerland, Leendert said it was crucial to create a "level playing field" rewarding sustainable practices.
Products made by firms promoting eco-friendly and ethical sourcing and production methods were often forced to command a premium, deterring processors, retailers and shoppers from buying them.
Until this was addressed, those in the supply chain would continue to "vote with their wallets", hampering sustainable initiatives, said Staal.
The problem outweighed all other individual sustainability issues such as control of water use and greenhouse gas emissions, because it undergirded them all, he said.
Delivering the opening address at the conference, which covered various issues facing the globe in the next decade, including economic, political and environmental concerns, Staal said the world was "stressed to its limits".
"Our way of life and global economic activities leave a long-term footprint on the planet," he added, noting the importance of coming to terms with this fact. "We have a global sustainability issue."
The conference examined subjects such as the effect of emerging global markets such as China and India on the global economy, as well as the implications of global population growth, poverty and malnutrition.
The provision of nutrition to areas of the world suffering from a lack of it was one of DSM Nutritional Products' core missions, said Staal.