Sustainable food policies: Major food players launch US alliance which will “shape what people eat”

Sustainable food policies: Major food players launch US alliance which will “shape what people eat”

16 Jul 2018 --- Four of the world's largest food companies have launched the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance, a new US organization focused on driving progress in public policies that shape what people eat and how it impacts their health, communities and the planet. Founding member companies include Danone North America, Mars Incorporated, Nestlé USA and Unilever United States. The four founding member companies have made broad updates to their portfolios in recent years, advancing issues like sodium and sugar reduction, responsible marketing, transparency and reducing their impact on the planet.

As the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance (Alliance), member companies will prioritize US public policy advocacy and action in five key areas:

  • Consumer Transparency: Improving the quality and accessibility of information available to consumers about the food they purchase for themselves and their families.
  • Environment: Advocating for innovative, science-based solutions to take action against the costly impacts of climate change, build more resilient communities, promote renewable energy, and further develop sustainable agriculture systems.
  • Food Safety: Ensuring the quality and safety of food products and the global supply chain.
  • Nutrition: Developing and advocating for policies that help people make better-informed food choices that contribute to healthy eating while supporting sustainable environmental practices.
  • People and Communities: Advancing policies that promote a strong, diverse, and healthy workplace and support the supply chain, including rural economies.

Two important policy areas the Alliance intends to engage in is nutrition labeling and carbon emissions.

The Alliance supports a comprehensive update of the definition of terms important for people, like “healthy,” including strong, science-based regulations on how these terms can be used on food packages and in marketing. The updates will help consumers make better choices for themselves and their families.

The Alliance will also work to advance climate policies that are impactful for the environment, while accounting for the specific business imperatives of supply chains, including farmers, ranchers, and other producers. 

This will include:

  • Urging US policymakers to ensure the Farm Bill and other farm policies reflect the pressing need to increase the scale of actions to address water quality and water conservation issues, focus on improving soil health, and expand the deployment of renewable energy.
  • Exploring the economics of sustainability, including financial incentives to reduce emissions and transition to low-carbon alternatives, with a particular focus on ways to create value for farmers and others who are implementing leading-edge practices to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Advocating on behalf of smart, comprehensive energy and environmental policies at the state, national, and international levels, including the Paris Climate Agreement, the Clean Power Plan or commitments that result in change necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with what evidence-based science says is necessary.

The focus at launch is getting to work on these critical policy issues. The companies will work together to determine if and how to consider new members into the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance.

Over the past decade, consumers have demanded that food companies be better partners in solving some of society’s most pressing challenges. However, there has been a lack of action on a larger-scale, and the Alliance has been formed to be a part of moving the conversation about industry-wide change forward. The Alliance will take individual commitments and the power of business one step further to advocate for overarching policies with the power to create positive change in the US food and agricultural systems.

The US is one of the biggest markets for each company, and as much as 95 percent of what is sold in the US is made and grown there. Heavily invested in American agriculture, communities and the workforce here, the Alliance believes the US can be a leader on environmental policy.

The four companies work together globally and are members of the International Food and Beverage Alliance. With so many pressing food policy opportunities on the horizon, from the farm bill to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to the FDA Nutrition Innovation Strategy, they decided that the time is now to begin working together in a more formal capacity in the US. 

The Alliance anticipates that consumers and the planet are only going to put more pressure on how food is grown and consumed, so they envision a lot to work on for the foreseeable future. They hope that the approach inspires similar actions in other countries to create positive change in food and agricultural systems. 

The mission is for the long term – to drive positive change for the people who use their products, the people who supply them, and the planet on which we all rely. The four companies have a track record of working together well and they anticipate that this is something they will do for the foreseeable future.

In a joint statement, Mariano Lozano, CEO, Danone North America, Tracey Massey, President, Mars Wrigley Confectionery Americas, Steve Presley, Chairman and CEO, Nestlé USA and Amanda Sourry, President, Unilever North America said: “The Sustainable Food Policy Alliance was founded on the principle that food companies can and should be doing more to lead and drive positive policy action for the people who buy and enjoy the foods and beverages we make and the people who supply them.”

“As an Alliance, we commit first and foremost to leading by example. Each member company has independently proven a willingness to advocate for the long-term interests of the people who farm and supply our raw materials, and people who make and consume our products.”

“We are committed to a collaborative approach and to listen and learn about issues affecting all parts of our food system from the field to the store shelf and beyond. We understand that we don’t have all the answers and will rely on the best available evidence-based science to inform our positions. We will be transparent about how we reach our decisions and what we hope to achieve.”

“With so many pressing food policy opportunities on the horizon, now is the time to help steer America’s food policy and our food system on a better path for long-term success,” reads the statement.

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