New Food Foundation report calls on food industry to set and report on health & sustainability targets

A new report entitled “PLATING UP PROGRESS 2020: -  Pathways for a healthy, just and sustainable food system during a global pandemic” has been launched by The Food Foundation.

In light of  the report’s findings,  the  Food Foundation  is calling  on food businesses to set targets  for shifting revenue towards producing and selling healthier and more sustainable food.   The  Food Foundation is urging for reporting on these  targets to be made mandatory by policy makers  and for investors to include performance against these  targets as part of their engagement and investment strategy.

The report  and accompanying  dashboard  maps  out the  current commitments, targets and performance reporting of  26 major UK food businesses.


The new report  finds that only 4 of the 11 supermarkets have  public targets on either the percentage of food sales that are healthy, or for increases in sale of fruit, veg or plant-based protein products.

The analysis  does however highlight leadership examples in the field, including Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer’s commitment to reporting the percentage of sales that comes from healthy products. Tesco’s leadership also aims to halve the environmental impact of the average shopping basket,  and  Lidl reports  a 20% increase in sales of veg between 2017-2019.

Below shows how the supermarkets scored  on  10  key topics. Full analysis and comparison diagrams are available on the  dashboard here.

Retailers for Raf

Courtesy of the Food Foundation

Restaurants & caterers 

The report finds that, of the major restaurants and caterers analysed, only 3 out of 15 have public targets or data available on either the percentage of food sales that are healthy,  or  report on fruit and veg sales.  None of the  companies have clear published targets or data for increasing sales of plant-based proteins, although several are introducing new menu options as alternatives to meat.

All OOH for Raf

Courtesy of the Food Foundation

The report highlights both the opportunity for an economic recovery that could accelerate a transition to health and sustainable food, and the risk that the economic downturn could hinder this. It  states  the need for financial incentives for companies to invest in change towards a greater focus on healthy and sustainable foods. It notes that some of this change can be driven by consumer demand, but governments need to  legislate  to help  get the parameters and incentives  implemented  too.


The Food Foundation says investors need to introduce expectations on food businesses to set targets for, and report on, sales of healthy and sustainable food if they are to understand the  actual  risks and opportunities  that apply to these companies. Because  only  the minority of  these  companies have revenue or sales-weighted target the Food Foundation says that investors cannot reasonably  assess  whether they are exposed to risks such as government action on obesity  or climate change, or risks associated with  the supply of  foods more exposed to environmental  shocks.  In the same way as we would expect energy companies to set targets for renewable energy, food companies need to set targets for healthy and sustainable food. , says the Foundation.

The report provides a set of “asks” for investors to use in this engagement with companies and additionally gives examples of where sustainability performance has been linked to capital provision. Investors  need to explore innovative ways that they can attach clear conditions of sustainability performance to capital investment, especially as the economy looks to respond to Covid-19.

Anna Taylor, executive director, The Food Foundation said: “The challenges we face are formidable and understanding the progress food companies are making and what targets they are setting is key.  We need clear direction from both investors and government to demand that companies report on these metrics if we are to see lasting change and if those companies with more ambitious health and sustainability commitments are to flourish.”

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