Quota survey to mark World Food Day tomorrow has found 97% of experts agree that closer alignment across business, policy and research would improve the food system.
In doing so, death, illness and hunger would be addressed, along with food waste costing US$1 trillion a year, and the one third of carbon emissions released through food production.
Quota founder and food research consultant Gavin Wren was surprised at the extent by which professionals estimated the system could be improved, simply through better co-operation.
“More than half said that closer alignment could improve the food system by 50%. Within that figure, in fact a quarter of respondents said it could improve by more than 75%. We’re talking significant change there, thanks to nothing more than better relationships.”
Quota engaged its audience of 25,000 professionals working across the business, research and policy sectors in food.
Gavin Wren explained, “Experts in universities and governments, agencies such as the FAO, World Food Programme and World Bank, and big food companies from Cargill and Danone to Unilever were invited to share their views. Our audience tends to focus on the UK, US and Europe but the global nature of the food industry means of course we had responses from across Asia and Africa as well.”
The question of applying a food systems green recovery to Covid-19 also attracted almost universal agreement.
Businesses focussed more on environmental sustainability than workers’ pay or health
Gavin Wren says, “Close to 100% believed that for tackling the economic crisis, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, government, business and agency funding should be directed into more sustainable outcomes.
“It will be interesting to see what proportion of government support in particular is made available for green recovery projects.
“Any scepticism came mainly from our business audience, which is understandable,” he continued, “But we were surprised at how limited the scepticism was.”
Almost all business experts reported they were already engaged in sustainable activities – the largest of which was waste reduction. 89% said their business was involved with this. 55% were involved in environmental regeneration and 44% were reducing carbon emissions.
“What opened our eyes here was the difference between environmental action and action to protect people,” Gavin Wren explains.
“Almost 90% were concerned with waste reduction which is great. In contrast, only 11% were concerned with pushing wages above the minimum statutory requirements. About 45% were concerned with staff safety. With all that this pandemic has caused, we expected those figures around workers to be higher.
“Good wages allow food workers to feed their own families well and provide good health care. Thousands of food workers have contracted Covid-19 at work and many have died – we expected safety to rate as highly as waste reduction.”
Over the coming week, Quota will continue to publish the survey findings.