Ambition 2025 in the wider context

When launched in 2007, our Five-Fold Environmental Ambition was truly ground breaking and helped put FDF and its members at the forefront of the sustainability debate. FDF members have been collectively delivering major improvements in resource efficiency in manufacturing operations for a number of years and much has been achieved.

We have reduced CO2 emissions by over a third, reporting members have cut water use by 30% and we are on track to send zero food and packaging waste to landfill by the end of 2015. This is proof that a collective, structured approach can deliver impressive results. Now nearly a decade on, the ambition has been refreshed to take into account the ever changing sustainability agenda and the complexity of issues that are increasingly demanding a whole-chain approach.

The wider context

The global food system is set to face unprecedented pressures over the coming decades. Competition for land, water and energy will intensify, with the use of critical inputs such as water and land already reaching their limits. Perhaps most concerning of all, the effects of climate change will become increasingly apparent and will bring us towards, and perhaps over, critical thresholds in coming decades. But the pressures on food security in the future are not only limited by production challenges but also demand, with the global population predicted to reach 9.3 billion by 2050 and with a projected increase in food demand of 50-70%.

Against this backdrop of rising demand, it is estimated that over one third of all food produced globally for human consumption goes to waste. On a national level, the UK currently enjoys a relatively high level of food security. But as global pressures on food supplies increase, the challenge of ensuring all UK citizens have access to nutritious, affordable and high-quality food will become more acute in the future unless action is taken.

These challenges are all taking place against a wider backdrop of ever changing expectations. The launch and adoption of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement at the UN Climate Conference (COP21) towards the end of 2015, are driving an unprecedented movement of private sector action. Food plays an important role within this agenda - especially Goal 12, which aims to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns through a systemic approach and cooperation amongst actors along the supply chain. But to achieve Goal 12 will require transition from a linear to a more circular economy, where the value of products and materials is maintained for as long as possible.

Delivering a sustainable global food system against a backdrop of food security will require concerted and coordinated action from producers, processors, retailers, consumers, governments and wider civil society. With food lying at the juncture of some of the world's most pressing environmental and societal challenges and as the UK's largest manufacturing sector, we are very conscious of the responsibilities that come with our scale and reach.

FDF vision and wider work

The Food and Drink Federation represents the UK's largest manufacturing sector, accounting for 16% of the total sector by turnover and employing around 400,000 people in the UK across over 6,000 businesses. We are an incredibly diverse sector, speaking on behalf of both global brands and thriving small businesses. As well as playing a vital role in underpinning the UK economy, manufacturers have a key strategic role to play in ensuring the nation's future food security against the combined effects of climate change, higher global demand and increasing pressure on finite resources.

FDF has developed an overarching vision for an innovative, resilient, resource-efficient and safe food and drink manufacturing supply chain. To achieve this, FDF is focused on delivering results in the areas that will have the biggest impact on our member's businesses, namely competitiveness, food safety and science, health and wellbeing and environmental sustainability.

There are real business and cost benefits for FDF members who fully engage in the wider sustainability agenda. Many companies now recognise that a sustainable supply chain is no longer just an optional nice-to-have, but a business imperative. Consequently, many member companies are already fully committed in this area, recognising that successful businesses will be those that acknowledge their profitability depends on the sustainable use of natural resources.

But with sustainability covering such a holistic agenda, we recognise we cannot drive transformational change across the whole system on our own. However in collaboration with others, we can act to help drive these changes. Our new Ambition focuses predominantly on environmental sustainability whilst at the same time recognising and joining up with FDF's wider work covering other components of sustainability, namely economic and social issues.

Sustainability is, in many respects all-encompassing and has an ever changing agenda. As an example, one important and developing theme is sustainable diets which, in the last decade, has become of increasing interest to businesses, policymakers, NGOs and wider civil society. Though FDF members are committed to continuing to respond positively to sustainability and public health challenges and to playing their role in helping consumers achieve balanced diets, this is not currently directly addressed within our Ambition. Nevertheless as sustainable diets ultimately contribute to food security and a resilient environment, this is something we are committed to exploring, with others, building our understanding and activity in this area as we move forward.

Ambition 2025

FDF's 'Ambition 2025 – shaping sustainable value chains' is the next step on our journey to help deliver a more sustainable food system. It covers the key areas where we believe we can, collectively as a sector, make the biggest positive impact and where we can enable change and provide solutions that help transform entire supply chains.

A competitive and sustainable UK food and drink manufacturing sector has the potential to make a real contribution to future food security and sustainable growth by producing more, from less and with less environmental impact. The proposal is fundamentally composed of two elements; Resource Efficiency, which is an evolution of the original Five-Fold Environmental Ambition and Shaping Future Value Chains, a new pillar of the ambition which acknowledges sustainable food systems require a much broader approach.

Resource Efficiency: We commit to working with our suppliers and partners in our own operations and across the food supply chain to further improve resource efficiencies.

This builds on our highly successful Five-Fold Environmental Ambition, which focused on our members' own operations and supply chains. The format has been maintained as it served us well in the past and still resonates with stakeholders and members and, importantly, targets those areas where we can continue to deliver significant progress.

Our new ambition includes a stretching target for reducing CO2 emissions as well as both quantitative and qualitative deliverables around water use, reduction of food waste, use of more sustainable packaging and the reduction of harmful environmental impacts from transport. As well as delivering results across members' own operations, we look to expand our remit further along the whole value chain, with deliverables to improve resource efficiencies along every stage in keeping with the need to move to a more circular economy, especially with our commitments on food waste and packaging.

In delivering our Resource Efficiency Ambition, FDF and its members will also make a contribution to WRAP's Courtauld 2025 targets across CO2 Emissions, Food Waste and in time, water. An ambitious voluntary agreement, Courtauld 2025 brings together organisations across the food system – from producer to consumer – to make food and drink production more sustainable. Acting as an enabler and route to support the delivery of FDF's vision and ambition, the involvement will be separate from, and independent of, individual member engagement with the commitment.

Shaping Future Value Chains: Through collaboration and engagement with members and external stakeholders, we will work to build resilient and sustainable value chains into the future.

While recognising resource efficiency is a key aspect of sustainable food systems, our new commitment on shaping future value chains also acknowledges this complex concept necessitates a much broader remit which also covers economic and social dimensions. As the supply chain is where social, environmental and business risks converge for food and drink companies, we believe FDF can play a positive role in shaping future thinking, with a focus on both sustainable supply chains and natural capital. Compared to Resource Efficiency, this is a relatively new area of focus for FDF, but we believe we can play a positive role in building resilient and sustainable value chains into the future.

Due to the complexity of the food chain and food production, as well as the social and economic issues, addressing global risks goes beyond the capacity of individual businesses and as such, it is essential that all interested parties are involved collaboratively in delivering holistic solutions. If we, as a sector, are able to anticipate future pressures and factor these into our future planning, the industry will be better equipped to turn risks into opportunities and put actions in place to build resilience ahead of what will likely be a very uncertain future. To read more about FDF's 'shaping future value chain' work, please refer to our Ambition 2025 brochure.

To conclude, as food and drink manufacturers, we are committed to playing our part in delivering a sustainable global food system which ensures food security for future generations. Building upon the successes of the Five-Fold Environmental Ambition and working collaboratively as a sector, our Ambition 2025 covers the key areas where we believe we can enable change and solutions that will help transform entire supply chains.

Last reviewed: 05 Apr 2019