Tag: sustainability

Can we have our farmed salmon and eat it too?

3rd Oct 19 by Christina O'Sullivan

Read our latest blog on the Food Climate Research Network. 

Read our blog on the Food Climate Research Network.

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Will the supermarkets Meat Us Halfway on meat?

13th Aug 19 by Phil Holtam, report author

Find out how the supermarkets performed in our 'less and better' meat scorecard.

Last week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report detailing the evidence for major and sweeping changes to our agriculture and land use, including shifts to more sustainable diets in places (like the UK) where meat and dairy consumption is already too high. We published our first response last week, looking at how Feedback thinks policy-makers should be responding to this challenge.

But what about some of the Big Food businesses with the greatest power in our food system? Yes, you guessed it, supermarkets.

Supermarkets, as the main provider of groceries for the majority of UK households, have a vital role to play for this dietary change to happen. So we’ve been looking into the biggest ten UK supermarkets and assessed their efforts at both the corporate and store level to support the public in shifting to sustainable and healthy diets. And we’ve found that, whilst there are signs of progress for some stores, most of them have a long way to go.

What did we base our assessment on?

Our scorecard uses two sets of indicators. The first set looks at publicly available information on corporate policies and commitments around sustainable animal feed, deforestation, and science-based climate change targets and reporting. This would include ensuring the climate impact of supply chains is fully recognised in supermarket operations, and a commitment to promoting consumption of healthy, plant-based foods, with a named champion within the business holding this responsibility. We’ve also used existing publicly available data into our scorecard from organisations such as FAIRR, the Carbon Disclosure Project and the Food Foundation.

The second set of indicators looks at the in-store experience, assessed via ‘mystery shopper’ visits to a small sample of stores. Here we were looking for, among other things, a strong offering of ‘better meat’ (i.e. meat which is RSPCA assured, free-range, or organic), prominent shelf position of meat-free proteins, clear guidance on healthy and sustainable meat consumption, and labels that refrain from mis-leading marketing, such as ‘fake farm’ brands. We also drew on Eating Better’s assessments of the proportion of ready meals, sandwiches and salads which are meat-free.

Using these indicators we looked at the major 10 supermarkets and awarded points based on 24 different criteria regarding their progress in shifting their offerings away from meat, as well as looking at the quality of the produce they do sell.

How did your supermarket do in our scorecard?

















We found that across the high street there is a real difference in the efforts retailers are making to respond to the climatic need for different food on our plates. Coming in at the bottom of our ranking, on a score of only 14%, was Iceland.

Despite recent moves to ban plastics in store, as well as their high-profile work on palm oil, Iceland lost points due to being one of just two retailers with no publicly available corporate policy on sustainable animal feed, and for being the only retailer not to have publicly signed up to the Cerrado Manifesto, which supports a halt to deforestation in Brazil’s Cerrado savannah. Despite having some vegan foods on offer, Iceland has the lowest proportion of vegetarian ready meals of any retailer, at just 7% , and their fresh meat offer consists of products meeting only the regulatory minimum, without any provision of ‘better’ meat, such as free range or RSPCA assured. Iceland has a long way to go towards ‘less and better’ meat, but so do fellow low rankers Morrisons, ASDA and Aldi.

Those at the top of the ranking shouldn’t feel complacent though – we’re still not seeing the sort of radical and brave commitments to selling less meat (and more ‘better’ meat) which will be needed for real change.

A recent Eating Better/YouGov poll found increasingly demand for plant-based foods with more people than ever before identifying as vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian. Of course these figures have their geographical and generational nuances, with younger urban-dwellers more likely to avoid meat, but the trend is clear; the UK public is ready for a dietary shift.

It’s time the supermarkets went beyond following the demand and meat us halfway.

By giving customers access to better quality meat and dairy produce, as well as offering meat-alternatives to help people reduce their meat and dairy consumption, they could make a real difference. Ultimately we think any supermarket which is serious about shouldering their responsibility for the impact of the food system on our planet will commit to halving their meat sales by 2030 overall, and stocking a higher proportion of high quality meat, such as year round pasture-fed.

Read the full scorecard.

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a Week at Feedback

15th Jul 19 by Ella Jarvis, Feedback Work Experience

A week in the life of Feedback work experience: Ella Jarvis reflects on her time in the office.

Ella Jarvis spent a week on work experience at Feedback, she reflects on her time working with the Feedback team.

Before my time at Feedback I had some knowledge on the devastating effects that climate change is having on our planet, due to my study of A level Geography. However, I had little knowledge on how our current food system has been a major factor that has driven these changes. Through my work experience I have gained so much knowledge regarding the issues caused by the food system and it has given me the opportunity to realise that this system needs to soon change to become sustainable.

The new knowledge and experience gained during my time at Feedback has meant that I thoroughly enjoyed my week here. I was given the opportunity to work with Claire, Food Citizens Project Manager, to help her design programmes which are going to take place in schools and I also worked with James, Project Manager, as he was planning gleans on pumpkin farms for after halloween. This has not only given me the practical skills of using different computer software, such as excel spreadsheets, but it also made me aware of the wider problems that food waste is having on the whole planet and how our current behaviours (like having pumpkins at Halloween) are unsustainable. I was able to explore the different campaigns at Feedback and they have served as a big source of inspiration for the changes that I am now going to make to my lifestyle.

I believe that this desire to change my poor habits is the most valuable thing that I will take away from my work experience here and it has made me realise that action, even by a single individual, does make a difference and that if people work together globally the effects of climate change can be reduced and this is imperative for the planet to continue to thrive. Feedback have also motivated me to want to campaign in my school for changes in the canteen which I will pursue. This experience has made me realise that we must all become active citizens and with a global effort, changes to the food system are possible.

Thank you Ella for your hard work!

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Surplus fruit and vegetables used in Kenya to feed thousands

26th Apr 17 by Edd Colbert

On average 45% of fresh produce is rejected in Kenya

In 2014 Feedback investigated Kenyan export supply chains and found that vast quantities of fruit and vegetables were being wasted due to strict cosmetic standards enforced by European retailers and unfair trading practices such as last minute order cancellations. On average 45% of fresh produce is rejected, and without sufficient demand in the local market the vast majority of this food is either dumped or fed to livestock. Farmers aren’t paid for what isn’t exported so wasted food not only means wasted resources, but also reduced income for rural communities.

Working with local partners we held the first African Disco Soup, bringing together people and surplus food to communally cook and celebrate the delicious solutions to food waste. Representatives from the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) joined us. We proposed the need for an effective redistribution system in Kenya alongside efforts to reduce waste through changes to business practices. Our report, Food Waste in Kenya, concluded that “in a country where millions of people are without adequate food and nutrition, infrastructure should be put in place to ensure surplus food is redistributed to those who need it”.

Following on from our work, a new project led by the WFP is using surplus fruit and vegetables to provide thousands of meals to school children daily. Its initial pilot scheme is currently feeding 2,200 school children one hot meal a day. Upon completion of the pilot the WFP plans to feed over 80,000 children per day. This program is expected to save over 1000 tonnes of food every year by paying exporters a small price for food that they would otherwise throw away.

How does the program work?

WFP collect surplus food from export centres, prepares meals in offsite catering facilities and deliver it to schools. They hope to eventually prepare food within school facilities. There is also talk of bringing in other actors to re-purpose some of this food into value added products. The WFP’s initiative will hopefully inspire similar projects to be developed in places where there is sadly both a surplus of produce to be eaten and millions of people unable to access regular quantities of nutritious food.

Redistribution alone won’t solve the food waste problem

Redistribution of surplus food is essential as it not only ensures food waste is avoided, but also provides people with good nutrition where they may not otherwise be able to access fresh produce. However, food waste is symptomatic of greater systemic imbalances in the supply chain and we cannot ignore the fact that farmers suffer when food cannot be sold despite being perfectly good to eat. Alongside redistribution efforts, the reduction and prevention of waste must be prioritised to ensure that farmers can afford to invest in their businesses and contribute to rural development. Businesses must take responsibility for the waste they cause in their supply chains. Supermarkets, large food brands and manufacturers all wield disproportionate power in the global food economy. The use of strict cosmetic specifications, unfair trading practices, and vague forecasting patterns all transfer excessive risk and uncertainty to suppliers and encourage overproduction leading to waste. Whilst these actors maintain this level of power they must equally act with great responsibility for the wellbeing of their suppliers, consumers, and the natural resources we all rely upon.



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