Searching for inspiration to design a long-term sustainability programme that captured the heritage of Birds Eye and the need to serve its consumers, I found it in a speech by the UN’s secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, who in 2008 stated “the world has a world shortage”.
It was designed to mobilise the world to take the issue of food security seriously. And yet at the time, the idea that the UK or EU food supply chains had food security issues was not characterised in day-to-day sustainability operations or interventions. But just the fact Birds Eye had to source fish globally to produce a more sustainable fish finger was an indication we did indeed have a problem with food supply chain resilience.
It was this that led to Birds Eye’s CSR and sustainability programme, Forever Food Together, where we work on a simple principle: to maximise food resource utilisation to deliver responsibly sourced and prepared, nutritious and tasty food.
Today, food security is mainstream in all sustainable development policymaking considerations because of the rapid growth in the global population. A recent Wrap food futures report explored the future of food and how UK businesses need to adapt and respond to future shocks, opportunities and trends with a greater urgency.
Brands can no longer operate without a need to think ‘how can I maximise food resources in our supply chain?’ and ‘how do we mobilise our key stakeholders to think the same, including the consumer?’
We decided to lead and maximise food resources and help nudge food security in the right direction in 2010 by working to drive more sustainable fisheries and agriculture. It takes a significant investment in resources and with this comes an elevated desire to maximise these food resources as they are prized more.
To ensure we continue to enjoy our favourite foods well into the future, brands will need to look at future workstreams, respond to them, assess how to recalibrate and apply them and challenge ourselves to collaborate on more new ‘open source’ solutions to help generate a more sustainable and resilient food future.
Peter Hajipieris is group director for CSR at Birds Eye