The Future Food Movement has found that the majority of people who work in the food sector want more training on how they can tackle climate change

A new organisation has launched a program to help close the climate skills gap in the food industry, revealing that only 12 per cent of people in the sector feel confident in their understanding of climate and sustainability issues.

The Future Food Movement, founded by sustainability agency Veris Stratergies, is a new industry organisation aimed at tackling the climate change risks faced by the food industry through upskilling workers.

The organisation last week published a white paper entitled Tomorrow’s Talent: Skills for a Climate Smart Food System outlining the need to expand the food industry’s green skills base. The report found that half of the two million people who work in the UK food sector want training on climate issues to help inform climate positive decisions, with 71 per cent saying they would be interested in training from their employer.  

The Future Food Movement’s new program is aimed at addressing the industry’s demand for climate-related training.  As part of the program, the organisation will run a series of year-long Accelerators with Continuing Professional Development certified training sessions online. A number of leading businesses, including Cranswick, Yeo Valley, and Nomad Foods, have already signed up to take part in the first Accelerator starting in January 2022.

“The hard truth is that, currently sustainability in the food sector isn’t working,” said Kate Crawley, managing director and founder of the Future Food Movement. “There aren’t enough sustainability experts who can drive science-based change and there’s a lack of confidence from senior leaders on how best to reach climate targets.”

Crawley said the new group will aim to develop skills across the industry in climate literacy, application, technology, and communication. Other initiatives run by the organisation include training for over one thousand leaders from across the country on the impacts of climate change and how the food industry can take action, and creating a network among industry executives focused on collaborative approaches to climate change.

Chef and sustainable food campaigned Gizzi Erskine has designed an Ally membership scheme as part of the program to connect people in the food and drinks industry and offer access to expert content, specialist events, case studies, forums, polls, downloadable guides, vlogs, and online training.

“This isn’t just another technical, science based upskilling programme tailored to ESG roles,” Crawley said. “We have collaborated with some of the world’s leading lights on climate issues who will be delivering workshops on topics such as climate language, regenerative agriculture, the future consumer, tech for good and human rights and ethics.”

Among other prominent members of the Future Food Movement are Anne Charlotte, chief partnerships officer at Olio, Louise Nicholls, ex M&S head of human rights and sustainability (Plan A) and founder of Suseco, and Gerhard Mulder, CEO at Climate Risk Services.

Another coach is Eve Turow-Paul, expert on Millennial and Gen z global food culture and founder and executive director of the Food Climate League, who said: “Establishing climate-smart strategies – including narrative and behavioural strategies – in the food industry is essential to help mitigate the climate crisis.

“We need to democratise and celebrate sustainable foods in a new way, to make these ways of eating enticing, accessible, and culturally-relevant for all. Every eater can be a climate hero, while eating nutritious, affordable foods. The Future Food Movement’s role in upskilling food businesses and individuals in this new climate narrative is fundamental to enacting change.” 

Chris Aldersley, chief operating officer at Cranswick plc, welcomed the new initiative. “We are under no illusion that reaching carbon net zero targets is going to be the biggest challenge our industry has ever faced,” he said. “We need to balance business growth with building a climate consciousness which runs through every seam of our business. This isn’t just the job of climate specialists, we need to build a bigger climate knowledge bank which is embedded in all areas of the food chain from procurement to production, finance to food development.

“The Future Food Movement is exciting as it puts food industry leaders in the same room to learn, challenge, collaborate and ultimately unlock our climate potential. Additionally, it will climate upskill future food leaders so we future-proof our industry.”

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