Leadership by the Private Sector

We will build on the successes from Peas Please and Plating Up Progress to showcase leadership and what progress looks like, with the goal of replicating them in other countries

  • We are changing business incentives through Plating Up Progress where we engage with businesses and investors to change the food system.  We have already seen evidence of improvements in the health and sustainability profiles for 9 of the 26 food businesses in this project.  This project also collaborates closely with the World Benchmarking Alliance, with whom we work on aligned methodologies, indicators and metrics.
  • Our Peas Please project has increased vegetable consumption across the UK by working with food businesses and changing Government policies. So far, our work has resulted in an additional 162 million portions of vegetables (an 81% year on year increase).

In doing so, we are using metrics to track company progress and stakeholder engagement as a driver for food system change. We will showcase the work of businesses and investors we currently work with in the UK at international events in 2021 and 2022, and use their leadership to encourage others within the sector to take action and put in place food policies for businesses and investors that account for the multiple issues of nutrition, environment and social inclusion. 


Engaging the private sector to accelerate food system transformation

Multiple health, societal and environmental issues are connected with our food systems, concerning the way we produce food and what we actually eat (Figure 1).  These challenges are complex and formidable, but not unsurmountable. “Fixing food” is possible with a transition that involves the protection and restoration of natural habitats, widespread adoption of sustainable farming practices, tackling global food waste and, crucially, dietary shifts.

The private sector has a key role in driving change, and in this work we are focusing on the role of the food industry and companies who invest in it. Food businesses such as supermarkets, caterers and restaurant chains can influence the required transitions in consumption and production, as both gatekeepers to our diets and the funnel through which most commercially produced food is channelled. Investors in these businesses can also provide crucial impetus by both setting expectations on business performance and by attaching conditions to the provision of capital.

Given the important role that food businesses and investors play in driving food system transformation, and building on the existing expertise within the Food Foundation, this work aims to do two things:

Showcase leadership from food businesses and investors at global events such as COP26, UN Food Systems Summit and other key moments in 2021.

Build a coalition of organisations who can collaborate with us to replicate and build on this work in their own countries. In collaboration with others, we would like to create a network of organisations that will implement “national spotlight” assessments of major food businesses within their own countries.


Our private sector workstream

As stated at the start of this concept note, we will focus on two key areas in our private sector work:

Showcase leadership from food businesses and investors in the U.K at global events such as COP26, UN Food systems Summit and other key moments in 2021.

Build a coalition of organisations who can replicate Plating Up Progress in their own countries. In collaboration with others, we would like to create a network of organisations that will implement “national spotlight” assessments of major food businesses within their own countries.


1. Sharing and showcasing leadership at global events such as COP26, UN Food Systems Summit and other key moments in 2021

We believe that, by showcasing what leadership looks like, we can act collaboratively to tackle barriers to change and inspire the sector.

We will convene a group of businesses that, through engagement with Peas Please and PUP, we have identified as being the frontrunners in their sectors because of their ambitious commitments, appropriate targets and clear reporting. This informal ‘leadership’ group will share and showcase their progress at international and Food Foundation events in 2021 and demonstrate to peers their commitment to improving the food systems.

In order to demonstrate what leadership could look like within our PUP project, we created two leadership profiles for each sector: one that showed current leadership in 2020 and one that was aspirational for 2025.  We want to showcase the food businesses who are most likely to be providing leadership in 2025.

The below graphic shows how our assessment currently maps the average profile in the casual dining sector (in black), the current 2020 leadership profile (in orange), and the aspirational profile for 2025 (in green).

 2. Building a coalition of organisations who can replicate PUP in their own countries. 

As part of a wider collaboration with the World Benchmarking Alliance we are building a consensus on the metrics that food businesses should be reporting on. The aim of this collaboration with WBA and others is to convene a network of organisations willing to implement “national spotlight” assessments of major food businesses in their own country. By replicating PUP’s methodology to carry out their own “national spotlight”, these partner organisations will be able to engage key stakeholders such as investors and policy makers and create change in business practice.

In order to facilitate this, we are creating a guideline toolkit, which is aligned with the WBA’s food and agriculture benchmark.  We would also like to work more closely with organisations interested in using the existing PUP dashboard that we have created and use in the U.K. This would enable assessments of food businesses in other “national spotlights” to be uploaded onto the PUP dashboard and comparisons to be made between countries.


Benefits of getting involved 

Food businesses and investors

  1. To be recognised as a leader in food system transformation amongst peers
  2. An opportunity to showcase progress at national and global events
  3. Engagement opportunities between businesses and investors
  4. Workshops organised with subject experts to tackle barriers to change

Organisations wanting to replicate PUP

  1. To understand food industry progress in your own countries
  2. A guideline toolkit for replicating PUP in your own country.
  3. Be part of a coalition of organisations driving change in an evidence-based way across different countries.


To get involved contact Will for more  details: