BirdLife: The Magazine Jan-Mar 2018 - Page 8

european food & farming the debate r e t a i l what’s driving the shift to sustainable farming? consumer demand What happens to the global food system has enormous implications for us all. Not just through food prices, availability, safety and quality but also the impact it has on societal well-being and communities. All these considerations rest on one precious edifice – nature. The soils, seas, forests and biodiversity that underpin all food production. However, our natural world is under enormous pressure. Overfishing, soil depletion, loss of pollinators, over-exploitation of groundwater and deforestation are all placing strain on the food system at a time when demand is growing, driven by population growth and the emergence of a consuming middle class across the developing world. We only have one planet and the natural system we depend on to feed ourselves must be protected. So, what to do? The food policy system – subsidies, regulations, tariffs – is not producing the outcomes we need. My argument is that the change needs to come from the market – from businesses that produce and sell food and, ultimately from the consumers that buy it. It’s an easy argument to make because it is already happening. Conservation went mainstream in 2017 – something we’ve never seen before, something naysayers said would never happen. In the UK, Blue Planet 2 was watched by 14 million people, making it the most watched show on TV in the UK in 2017. And Countryfile, a programme centred on farming, pulled in eight million viewers a week. Markets drive change when consumers take interest in issues and campaigns in the way they have this year. From our experience around 10% of people are passionately green. They seek out food that is certified as sustainable. But ‘10%s’ do not move markets. What truly matters are the further 70% of consumers who are concerned about the future either on a global scale (35%) or on a much more local, community scale (35%) but who believe “sustainable” is too complex or too distant from 8 their daily lives to buy into. We are on the cusp of a profound change that will see that 70% drawn into the eco- marketplace. This is being driven by several factors, all created by business innovating and collaborating. A connected, digital world is helping people learn more about our food and farming system, understand the challenges and buy into the solutions, and people are recognising that food that is better for them is usually better for nature too – a double win. This market pull leads to producers and retailers producing better ranges, better signposting, and ultimately a better offer on food that is good for people and planet. All of the fish sold at Marks and Spencer, a major British retailer, is from sustainable sources; 100 per cent of the palm oil we use is RSPO certified; we only sell Fairtrade tea and coffee; all our eggs are free range an BbbFR6GFvRW6R2g&&R7W7F&P6W&6W2v^( fRFVFW6P7FW2BFW'2&V6W6PbFVBg&W"7W7FW'2@FRG&fRg&vFFFVƗfW"66&P6vRvR&RB:fRFVvvfW&V@FW'fVFvv2&RV6W76'F&VwVFRF6RFBF( B6vPBFR&WV&VB6SfW7B&W6V&6&fFRG&sBFW6R7V'6FW2BF&fg2F&Wv&@7W7F&R&GV7FFR&WBW6VBv6Vǒ6FVƗfW"6RB66Rb6vPFBƖ7FW'fVF2P֖R&''6BFR&W77W&W2FPF&V7F"b7W7F&PV677FV2FBVFW'FRf@'W6W72e077FV&RFw&VBFFV( VR&P&V6v6pFBfBFB0&WGFW"f"FVЦ2W7Vǒ&WGFW f"GW&RF( Ц&&FƖfR( ""#