The Food Foundation hosted the first UK investor conference dedicated to food systems in February 2023.
We brought together analysts, businesses, policymakers and members of the Investor Coalition on UK Food Policy for a special event in London to discuss the central role the investment community must play in driving systemic transformation towards a healthy, sustainable and equitable food future.
What we delivered
Businesses are involved in every part of the food system - being both the gatekeepers to our diets and the funnel through which most commercially produced food is channelled.
To change the food system, we therefor need to change how food businesses work and how they are funded, with commercial interests often still focused on generating profit for shareholders rather than delivering healthy and sustainable outcomes for citizens and the planet.
Highlights of the summit
So we brought together 120 leading investment analysts, policy-makers, academic experts, Non-Governmental Organisations and journalists to debate critical issues facing the food system and examine potential solutions.
The event was inspired by a coalition of 23 investment organisations, representing £6 trillion in assets under management - The Investor Coalition on Food Policy.
Podcast: Analysis from the event
We were delighted to attract the participation of international broadcaster and financial commentator Susannah Streeter who hosted the event and chaired the panel sessions.
Susannah Streeter opening the summit
Top officials from several major companies attended, including HSBC, BNP Paribas, Rathbone Greenbank Investments, Financial Times, the think tank Planet Tracker, and NGOs Feedback and ShareAction.
Professor Tim Benton, Research Director of Emerging Risks at Chatham House, then set the scene for the summit by looking at the impact threats such as climate change will have on our ability to feed ourselves now and into the future.
Prof Tim Benton on food system risks
Our keynote speaker was Iceland's Head of Product and Process Stuart Lendrum, who touched on the impact of the cost of living crisis on citizens and what the supermarket giant is doing to tackle climate change.
Iceland's Stuart Lendrum delivers his keynote speech
How investors can and should engage with governments and policymakers to bring about industry-wide change?
Our first panel discussion explored the role investors can play in improving the food system - and why it is so important they act.
Speakers included Dr Martin Buttle, Better Work Lead at the CCLA, Rune-Christoffer Dragsdahl, Secretary-General of Dansk Vegetarisk Forening (DVK), Sophie Lawrence, Stewardship and Engagement Lead at Rathbone Greenbank, and Jessica Attard, a Programme Director at ShareAction.
How should investors engage with governments?
How can investors engage with businesses to change the UK food system?
Our second panel discussion examined whether there is enough awareness among the investment and business communities about food systems issues, and explored the risks involved in maintaining the status quo for the health of citizens and the planet.
Speakers included Allan Wilkinson, Head of Agrifoods at HSBC, Peter Elwin, Director of Fixed Income and head of the Food and Land Use Programme at think tank Planet Tracker, Rachel Crossley, Head of Stewardship Europe at BNP Paribas Asset Management, Judith Evans, Consumer Industries Correspondent at the Financial Times, and Martin Bowman, Senior Policy and Campaigns Manager of Feedback projects.
How can investors change the food industry?
Pictures from the event
Susannah Streeter opens the summit
Professor Tim Benton speaking about food system risks
Iceland's Stuart Lendrum
Speakers during the first panel session
The second panel session
Members of the audience
Attendees networking during the event