Food firms urge government action on climate

By Dan Colombini

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Carbon dioxide emissions, Carbon dioxide

Rising sea levels will reduce available land for manufacturers
Rising sea levels will reduce available land for manufacturers
Government support is “essential” to tackle the negative effects of climate change on the food and drink industry, according to the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

Costs are expected to rise for many manufacturers as they battle with growing pressure on resources, but the global nature of the challenge makes government backing vital, warned the FDF.

Andrew Kuyk, FDF’s director of sustainability and competitiveness told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “Industry can achieve much through its own efforts. But the global nature of the challenges means that governmental action to set the right regulatory and competitive frameworks is essential. This requires genuine partnership and we are ready and willing to engage.”

Challenges

With world population projected to increase to 9bn by 2050, the FDF believes climate change will further add to the challenges the industry already faces to secure food security both in the UK and worldwide.

Kuyk said: “Rising sea levels will reduce available land, rising temperatures will make some areas uncultivable and changing weather patterns will affect water, either through floods or drought.

“It is probably too early to say that this is already happening, despite increasing volatility in world commodity markets. But the warning signs are clear and action needs to be taken now to mitigate and adapt.​”

The FDF believes the increased pressure on resources as a result of these changes means firms must look to improved levels of efficiency and better technology as a means to tackle the issue.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said close work with business was a key factor in its strategy and called on manufacturers to play a leading role in combating the challenge.

Leading role

A spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “DEFRA is keen to work with the food industry and will be looking to the sector to play a leading role as the UK seeks to adapt to the risks and opportunities presented by the changing climate.

“Throughout 2012, DEFRA, the Environment Agency and other government departments will be working with businesses in all sectors on how we can best work together and what barriers exist to successful adaptation.​”

Meanwhile, a report published this week (December 7) by the FDF showed that food and drink firms have slashed their carbon dioxide emissions by 25% and were on track to meet their target by 2020.

The latest Five-fold Environmental Ambition progress report, which aims to reduce firms’ environmental impact, also revealed that FDF members have helped to cut product and packaging waste in the supply chain by 6.9%.

In addition, water use had been slashed by 5.3% and 163M road miles have been saved, according to the report.

Food minister, Jim Paice said: “Food and drink businesses have made great progress in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, cutting down waste and reducing water use. Of course, there’s always more to be done but I’m impressed by the challenging longer term ambitions set by the industry itself. We’ll do all we can to help them be met.”

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