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Priority areas for food and drink industry

Resource efficiency, along with sustainable sourcing and sustainable consumption and production, are three priority action areas in FoodDrinkEurope's vision for 2030, launched in June this year. By then, a soaring world population, relying on limited resources, will need 50% more food, 40% more water and 50% more energy to sustain it. This is the context of challenges facing food and drink companies, Europe's largest manufacturing sector.

For an industry uniquely dependent on agricultural and natural resources, and on the eco-system services that determine their availability, optimizing resource use is imperative. Our responses are multiple e.g. working with partners to reduce food waste along the food chain; creating guiding principles for sustainable sourcing of raw materials; working with farmers to manage water use; boosting innovation; building further on progress in emissions reduction (1999-2008 our sector's Green House Gas emissions decreased 18% while output value increased 29%). For other industry-wide and company initiatives see FoodDrinkEurope's Environmental Sustainability Vision Towards 2030.

Collaboration is key. Amplifying positive outcomes, cooperation - for example along supply chains, with governments, NGOs and consumers - is vital to success. Examples include work by the Food Sustainable Production and Consumption Round Table on assessing food products' environmental impact and on communicating environmental information to consumers. Multi-stakeholder forums like the Food SCP underpin a "whole-of-society" approach needed to embed sustainability in economic and social behaviour.

Tove Larsson is Environment Director at FoodDrinkEurope.

This article has been published in the ACE Newsletter Winter 2012.

Published on 04 February 2013