According to a recent report by Forum for the Future, a sustainability advisory nonprofit based in the U.K., “doing the right thing for our food system” by investing in good nutrition can reap significant financial rewards; however, stagnation can be incredibly costly. Their report, Nutrition: An Emerging Threat or an Opportunity? analyzed the financial risks of food manufacturers who make products that are high in fat, salt, and sugar and examined how a company’s assets, including their brand, their hardware, and their software, may become “stranded” as consumer knowledge grows about the negative effects of the food they produce.
“The sums at stake are considerable. Companies like Coca-Cola and Danone, for example, carry significant brand values. If pressure for improved nutrition grows, those valuations may only be protected by expensive and complex reformulation activity,” the report explained. If an organization fails to adapt their brand, they run the risk of falling behind or becoming obsolete
The Forum asks businesses, Will you be disrupted or will you be a disruptor? By showing organizations the risks involved in not changing and the rewards involved in extending healthy food options, the Forum seeks to market sustainability to these companies.
The Forum also builds collaborative partnerships along individual food chains—for example, tea— to drive specific change within an industry. The Forum understands that tea is an important industry to many countries—particularly developing nations—but it faces an uncertain future due to climate changes, competition for land, and rising input costs. The Forum acknowledges these challenges cannot be faced by individual organizations alone: “If the tea sector is to thrive in a sustainable manner, it needs to work jointly across the value chain to tackle these challenges.”
The Forum’s project, Tea 2030, brings together the companies responsible the majority of the world tea market—Ethical Tea Partnership, Fairtrade International, Rainforest Alliance, Unilever, and others—with the shared goal of creating a sustainable tea industry. The Forum has performed similar work with the dairy and grain industries.
The Forum is not overwhelmed by the sustainability challenges in the food system, but insists the change needed is urgent and that cooperation between members of the food chain is vital to do this. Jonathan Porritt, Founder, Director, and Trustee of Forum for the Future, stated, “A lot of people in my community of sustainability professionals have basically come to the conclusion it’s not too late. It’s not going to be easy and the longer we delay the harder it’s going to be, but I still fundamentally believe that it’s doable.”