The path of the food and drink industry towards Sustainable Food Systems

Published: 09/12/2019

The food and drink industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the EU with an annual turnover of over €1.2 trillion and is a leading employer, employing 4.72 million people. We provide food and drink for some 1.5 billion meals every day and most of the sector (99%) is composed of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). However, growing challenges such as climate change, resource depletion, and malnutrition are affecting our sector and society alike.

Today, we are determined more than ever to help address these global challenges by moving towards more sustainable food systems and implementing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In this context, building on our efforts and achievements to date, we will work collectively to:

Generate inclusive and sustainable growth;
Meet citizens’ needs and consumer demands, including through:

  • Provision of nutritional and environmental information on food and drink products;
  • Supporting healthier and more sustainable diets;

Nurture a sustainable planet, including through:

  • Supporting sustainable farming;
  • Sustainable global sourcing (including e.g. deforestation, biodiversity);
  • Climate change adaptation and mitigation;
  • Moving towards a more responsible and efficient use of natural resources and a circular economy.

A swift transition towards more sustainable food systems requires engagement and co-operation from all actors throughout the food supply chain and beyond, both individually and collectively, at national, regional and global level. There is a need for a holistic, fair, and coordinated approach. We will encourage a shift of mindsets, business models and strategies across the whole agri-food chain, to ensure that sustainability becomes a strategic priority for all food business operators.

Achieving more sustainable food systems will only be possible if there are supportive market conditions, financial support and policy and regulatory frameworks in place to help tackle potential barriers.

This paper outlines our recommendations and commitments to support an effective transition towards more resilient and sustainable food systems in line with the SDGs. We aim to pave the way for a sustainable future with stronger links between food, people and the planet, while making recommendations for the future EU ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy.