The group, led by Rathbone Greenbank Investments, included Legal and General Investment Management, Aviva Investors and EOS at Federated Hermes – a full list can be found below.
This coalition has called for new legislation on mandatory reporting of sales-weighted metrics, as recommended by the National Food Strategy.
Such legislation wold cover manufacturers, wholesalers, large retailers and more that have operations in the UK, with metrics including sales of food and drink high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS), sales of protein by types, sales of fruit and vegetables and food waste.
It also called on the Government to consider the full range of regulatory tools at its disposal to promote sustainability in the food system and to be ‘bold and ambitious’ in its response to the ‘major social and environmental challenge’ of the UK food system.
Long-term thinking and sustainability
The coalition agreed that well-designed regulation could create an essential enabling environment for businesses seeking to build long-term thinking and sustainability into their business models.
Anna Taylor, Executive Director at The Food Foundation said: “Taking action on the National Food Strategy’s recommendations must be a priority for the UK. Not only is our health worsening, with public spending on obesity-related ill health set to keep rising, but we will not be able to meet our climate commitments without acting on sustainable food.
“We urgently need consistency in how food businesses report on health and sustainability metrics, to ensure that we have clear, industry-wide evidence of how the food sector is transitioning to healthier and more sustainable food sales. To achieve that, we need government and investors to work together and help drive this shift to regular and transparent reporting.”
While the open letter recognised that some businesses already reported on healthy and sustainable food voluntarily, it argued here was a notable lack of consistency in how metrics are being reported and some sectors are further behind.
Sophie Lawrence – senior ethical, sustainable and impact researcher at Rathbone Greenbank Investments – described the food system in its current state as unsustainable and that ambitious action was needed to realign it to work for people and planet.
“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,” she added.
“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.”
The full list of signatories
- Rathbone Greenbank Investments
- Castlefield Investment Partners LLP
- Aviva Investors
- EOS at Federated Hermes (on behalf of its stewardship clients)
- Legal & General Investment Management
- Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation
- Newton Investment Management Ltd
- BMO Global Asset management (EMEA), part of Columbia Threadneedle Investments
- The Health Foundation
- Valori Asset Management
- Australian Ethical Investment
- U Ethical Investors
- Capital Fund Management
- EdenTree Investment Management Ltd
- Phoenix Group
- The Food Foundation