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Key Programmes

The Food Ethics Council has been awarded a three-year grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to deliver a new programme of work.


Our ambition for our key programmes is for the UK Government and Devolved Administrations to attach high priority to ethical concerns in food and farming, with policies contributing to fair, sustainable, humane and healthy food and farming systems. Our work will also ensure greater civil society focus and more coordinated effort on issues of ethical concern in food and farming.

Our key programmes will support policy decisions that enhance the fairness and sustainability of the UK food system – now, during the Brexit negotiations and associated redrawing of national policies, and in the run up to the next General Election (currently due in 2020).

Unleashing the power of indexes

In our Unleashing the power of indexes work, we will influence major food indexes to drive a ‘race to the top’ on food sustainability. We will work with key food indexes (including the Food Sustainability Index) to strengthen metrics and approaches used and to ensure they have an appropriate set of measures across environment, social, health and animal welfare.

We will then work with civil society organisations (CSOs) to act on these major indexes, leveraging media interest and prompting political interest, culminating in tangible improvements to the UK’s food system. We will also build a detailed commentary and ethical analysis to accompany future versions of the Food Sustainability Index.

This work will help the UK score higher in major global food indexes, and make sure those indexes are more robust measures of countries’ performance on food impacts.

Food policy barometer

The Food Ethics Council will develop a food policy barometer, a tool to show how policies contribute to or hinder progress towards healthy, fair, sustainable, humane food and farming. As organisations struggle to make their voices heard in the run up to Brexit, the barometer will encourage them to take a step back and see whether national policy proposals are likely to deliver positive long-term change (‘all things considered’).

We’ll present the barometer online in a simple, compelling visual way, providing an easily accessible judgement of key government policies and, where appropriate, selected collective food industry commitments (e.g. Courtauld 2025).

For selected key policies or proposed legislation that score badly on the Barometer (i.e. are not in our view contributing towards fair and sustainable food and farming), we’ll convene key players from the food system and policy experts in a series of policy solution roundtables to develop alternative policy proposals.

Advocacy will focus on using tools we have worked with and created ourselves to drive change. These will build an evidence base for CSOs and progressive businesses, and  will feed into our own direct advocacy, as well as being convening and mobilising tools for ‘influencers’.

Using the evidence and policy solution options identified, we will conduct joint advocacy to promote fair policy solutions in the run up to the 2020 General Election.

Ethical tools

We are developing tools for key food system influencers (e.g. CSOs and progressive businesses) such as our emerging Ethical Framework. There is a huge appetite for information on food ethics, as we can see by the fact that the most popular page on our website is ‘what is food ethics?’.

We will continue to seek grant funding for our crucial work on providing research, advice and tools on ethical issues relating to food and farming, to diversify our funding and to grow the organisation.