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NHS data shows over a third of all children leaving primary school in England are at a heightened risk of developing food-related illnesses. Those living in the poorest communities are disproportionately affected.

This cannot go on. Businesses must do more to prioritise health, and play their part in ensuring we all live long and healthier lives. That means making sure everyone has access to nutritious food.

All over the world, young people are beginning to question a food system that is making it hard to be healthy. They want to know why they are growing up surrounded by a flood of junk food. They are demanding food companies do more to spotlight healthier options and promote balanced diets when millions of children are at risk of developing diet-related health conditions.

To create a better food industry and give children and young people what they need to thrive, those leading the world’s major food brands must listen to them. That’s why the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) welcomed youth activists from Bite Back 2030 to its annual Global Summit, held from 12 to 14 June in Chicago, US, where leaders from the retail, manufacturing and service provider sectors convened to discuss future business trends, share knowledge and best practices, and identify solutions to pressing global challenges.

During a dedicated session, the activists from Bite Back 2030 called for a healthier, fairer food system. They demanded more transparency, greater investment in child health and a health-focused role on the boards of all food and drink companies. In short, they asked the consumer goods industry to prioritise their health.

The shared platform between the CGF and Bite Back 2030 is an excellent example of how business and youth representatives can find common ground, and drive progress on the key global food issue of accessibility of healthier and sustainable diets. In a changing world, such co-operation is how we shape the food industry of the near future.

It is crucial for all food manufacturers and retailers to listen to the youth, as they represent a significant proportion of the consumer base and will continue to do so in the future. This upcoming generation is increasingly challenging current industry norms. They want food and drink companies to embrace meaningful innovation and become truly progressive and socially responsible businesses.

With a deep understanding of the planet’s environmental challenges, the young generation also want a more sustainable food system that is better for the planet. As a result, they may ask questions about where ingredients have come from. They are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact of modern food products and the potential consequences for themselves and the natural world.

Corporate engagement with this new generation of consumers is the way forward. By responding to their ambitions, the food and drink sector can ensure it continues to thrive for decades to come.

Business leaders should listen to young people and improve products marketed to them – in terms of their recipes, ingredients and packaging. After all, we depend on the wellbeing of the upcoming generation for not only business success but also the future.