How can we tap into the potential for businesses to bring about a fairer, more sustainable food system?

The Food Ethics Council Business Forum is a group of progressive business leaders in food and farming, who meet to discuss the big issues of the day, under the Chatham House Rule. This is one of a series of events open to Business Forum members. For anyone who is not currently a member but is interested in attending, please contact dan@foodethicscouncil.org

Chair: Cathryn Higgs, Head of Food Policy at Co-op and member of the Food Ethics Council (provisional)


  • Sophi Tranchell, CEO of Divine Chocolate, Fairtrade pioneer and Social Enterprise ambassador
  • Ben Kellard, Director of Business Strategy, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, an expert in organisational purpose
  • Jon Alexander, Co-Founder of New Citizenship Project and Trustee of the Food Ethics Council will do a short response.

Businesses have a huge role in building a vision for society – and for our food systems – based on values of fairness and wellbeing of people, animals and the planet. What is the context influencing how businesses act? What are the opportunities for them to steer society towards better food systems for all? What are the limitations and what kind of support do they need from other players? Is the notion of purpose-led business too embedded into the ‘voting with our purse’ consumer paradigm? We will explore these and other questions.

‘Purpose’ has been a buzzword for business in the past few years. But what does it mean, and how to tell the difference between genuine purpose and PR spin? The emergence of social enterprises and Benefit Corporations (B Corps) seemed to largely bypass the food sector until recently. But that is now changing, with a mushrooming of ‘purpose-led’ food businesses – from Danone (in North America) to Divine Chocolate, from Brewdog to Better Food Bakery, and beyond.

The meeting will provide an opportunity to:
– Explore which food businesses are leading the way in their contribution to making fairer, more sustainable food systems
– Consider whether food businesses can ‘adopt’ purpose or whether it has to be embedded from the outset – and how important legal structure is
– Assess how business can support a societal shift towards fair food systems, and how their role links to other key agents’ roles in those systems
– Consider how food businesses involve and support employees to create meaningful change
– Explore what opportunities exist for food and farming businesses to set and deliver their socio-environmental (or sustainability) purpose


24th September 2019
4:45 - 8:30 pm


The Zetter Townhouse
Saint John's Square

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