Beyond Business As Usual: Towards a sustainable food system

The report presents findings from a two year study involving interviews and roundtables with a wide range of people from across the food system.

Beyond Business As Usual highlights the top priorities for government and business action in pursuit of a sustainable food system. It identifies aspects of how the food system operates that constrain business, but not in a way that makes excuses for business. The report also identifies a number of key challenges that, as things stand today, no-one really feels confident about addressing.

Beyond Business As Usual cuts through the rhetoric and potential vested interests to articulate a clear way forward. It suggests a series of practical and transformative changes that food businesses, government and consumers can make to help create a sustainable and resilient food system. These include:

  • Retailers providing a ‘better set of choices’ in products, such as some supermarkets only stocking fairly traded own brand tea and bananas;
  • Businesses providing sustainable meals to their workforce;
  • Employees lobbying for sustainably sourced food and drinks, and for responsible pensions;
  • Government leading the way in public sector food procurement, and introducing ‘sustainability’ taxes on unsustainably sourced food, the revenue going to prevent further damage.

Alongside these (and more) practical measures, the report identifies a need for transformative change which will underpin and encourage these smaller steps. Government must show leadership by developing a joined up food policy and recognise that an economic model premised on continued economic growth above all else is not sustainable.

During the course of Beyond Business As Usual the Food Ethics Council conducted a programme of in-depth 1-1 interviews with senior food business figures and other key stakeholders. We hosted three business seminars to find out what the main barriers are to achieving a sustainable food system; to work out what needs to be done to overcome those barriers; and to identify the big stumbling blocks that no-one knows how to deal with. Our report’s recommendations are based on those findings.

Beyond Business As Usual was a two-year project funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, and sponsored by The Co-operative Group.

Download the full report.