Food industry key to sustainable future, says Compass CEO

Dominic Blakemore Compass CEO City Food Guildhall
Dominic Blakemore: Food has the greatest impact on the environment and public health
28/02/2019 - 09:52
The food industry, more than any other sector, holds the key to achieving a shared sustainable future, according to Dominic Blakemore, chief executive of Compass Group.

Delivering The City Food Lecture 2019 at the Guildhall in London, he outlined the challenges of population growth and increasing food inequality. He also discussed the way technological advances and building consumer trust will help the food industry adapt.

“Food will define the future more than any other sector. It has the greatest impact on the environment and public health. Global demand for food, even today, has over-stretched the system and is destroying world resources.

“By 2050 the population will grow by around 25%, with an estimated population of over 9bn people in 30 years’ time. The likelihood is we will be wealthier, more demanding and will certainly have grown up immersed in a digital world. Technology adoption rates have exploded already and will only accelerate further with the next generations.”

He also highlighted the role he thought that technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, big data and 3D printing could play in helping the food industry adapt.

And emphasising the importance of ensuring consumers can trust where their food comes from, he said: “The way we will build trust is through transparency, having a supply chain we can have total confidence in and where consumers can be confident in the sustainable methods used to produce their food.

“That requires us to be fair with farmers, pay them an appropriate price which enables them to reinvest, and having a shared commitment to the environment, animal welfare and workers’ rights.”

He concluded by predicting that partnerships will be imperative for the future of the food industry.

“No one business can tackle these issues alone and, importantly, rather than competing for margin, or scale, or growth we need a new approach to how we work.

“Building our businesses together, creating trust between each other with respect for natural resources and embracing new tech and methods is the approach we will follow.”

The lecture was followed by a panel debate chaired by Chris White managing director of Fruitnet Media and featuring Minette Batters, President of the National Farmers Union, Prof Corinna Hawkes director, Centre for Food Policy School of Arts and Social Sciences City University and Tamira Treffers-Herrera, regional head Europe Rabobank.

Held annually at London’s Guildhall, The City Food Lecture is organised by the seven City of London livery companies involved in agriculture and food: the Worshipful Companies of Bakers, Butchers, Cooks, Farmers, Fishmongers, Fruiterers and Poulters.

It brings together 700 industry leaders, academics and liverymen and was this year was supported by premium sponsor Rathbone Investment Limited.

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