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So how was your summer 2023? Were you washed out in England during the wettest July in 100 years, or were your plans disrupted after large areas of southern Europe were engulfed in wildfires?

We’ve had a frightening example of extreme weather events this year, right on our doorsteps. We are at a crossroads. We cannot go on like this and bury our heads in the sand. We all have a part to play. We all need to do more.

I say this not just because it’s in the interests of my businesses, or food producers and the retail sector in general, but because it’s in the interests of me as a responsible citizen, father and grandfather.

For me, the most frustrating aspect of this is that we see it every day, yet we continue to do nothing. Al Gore’s 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth alerted the public to an increasing “planetary emergency” due to global warming. Seventeen years on, what has changed? We need to do more. Our planet and the lives of future generations depend on the actions we take now.

Our planet and our modes of food production are fragile. The Ukraine war powerfully highlights the fine balance of our global supply chain ecosystems and how just one country, strangled by a human invasion and not climate breakdown, set off massive shockwaves around the world.

Imagine climate breakdown not just in countries but continents. Crops and food security would collapse, causing global human migration and creating unsolvable issues across Europe and the ‘First World’.

The food sector has a massive part to play in this. One-third of global emissions and 75% of global deforestation comes from food. Almost 40% of the food we make is wasted, yet nearly a billion people on the planet go to bed hungry.

It’s never been more important for us as an industry to address the critical issues of climate, food security and what comes as a consequence: poverty. Failure to act means our most vulnerable people suffer first. This cannot be right, and it is our responsibility to ensure we leave the right legacy, where the next generation is better and more prosperous than this one.

That’s why I want my businesses to operate in a way that is better for all, not just for our bottom line. To put it bluntly, what’s the point of a bottom line without a functioning society to go with it?

It’s for all my colleagues, their families, and their wider communities. It is for our customers and suppliers and in turn their millions of customers.

Our ‘Better For All’ plan is not just a sustainability strategy. It’s a different way of operating and being honest about the areas where we need to do better. The first question we will ask is: in our supply chain, investments, procurement and products, are we acting sustainably?

We’ve launched this plan internally and we will embed stretching but realistic KPIs in key areas, which every colleague in our business will play a part in achieving.

We have a massive opportunity – and responsibility – to collaborate with the food manufacturing and retail industries to do more, to shift sustainable consumption from the periphery of the food system to the centre of it.

It’s not enough to simply minimise our environmental impact or set lofty sustainability goals. We must tackle challenges head-on to help shape the food system of the future and make it fair, plentiful and resilient. One that works for everyone. One that is Better For All.