Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Our call on government to help improve food system - Guy's & St Thomas' Foundation

Our call on government to help improve food system

16 July 2021
|
3 min read

We join a group of investors, representing over £2.8trn in assets, in sending a letter to government responding to the new National Food Strategy.

Fresh fruit and veg sign supermarket

Following the National Food Strategy published today, we have joined other investors in addressing a letter to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care in broad support of the strategy’s recommendations to promote a healthier food system in the UK.

In the letter, seen by the Financial Times, we call on the government to be ambitious in its response to the urgent challenges facing the food system, such as such as food waste, lack of affordable nutritious food and unsustainable supply chains. Led by Rathbones Greenbank Investments, we join other investors such as Aviva Investors, Newton Investment Management and Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) in an effort to help companies and investors to operate more sustainably. These efforts add to the insight we shared from our childhood obesity programme at Impact on Urban Health, which helped inform the National Food Strategy’s plans.

A push for well-designed regulations

As a result of the pandemic, health has never been higher on the corporate agenda. However, to make food environments healthier, we encourage the government to implement well-designed regulations. This includes clear and consistent mandatory reporting requirements for companies in the sector.

Alongside that, we call on the government to consider tools such as using fiscal measures, building on the success of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy. We want to encourage companies to increase their commitment to health as part of their ESG work and broader sustainability plans. We believe this will drive greater availability of healthy foods and more rapid positive change across the food industry.

Our asks of the government are designed to help create a more enabling environment for food companies to embed sustainability into their businesses and allow investors to more easily assess progress on areas like tackling obesity

Matthias Lomas
Matthias Lomas, Investment Engagement Manager

Using investor engagement to drive change

The call today is part of our work to become a more responsible investor and achieve our endowment’s dual objectives of financial returns and health impact. Over the year, we have engaged with major UK food manufacturers and retailers such as Tesco through an investor coalition led ShareAction. So far, because of our engagement efforts with others, five major retailers covering 60% of the UK grocery market have strengthened their commitments to increase sales of healthier food products.

Alongside this work, we have become a member of the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association and are part of the Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI), publishers of the Global Index 2021 – an index of how the world’s largest global food and beverage manufacturers contribute to addressing malnutrition.

To learn more about our progress as a responsible investor, contact Matthias Lomas.