Nearly one-quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions comes from agriculture and deforestation, but if we continue with business as usual agriculture could become the world’s largest contributor to climate change. That’s because feeding a growing population takes a toll on the earth, including outsized impacts on our soil, water and climate.
Consumers are starting to recognize this massive challenge, which is part of the reason why the demand for sustainably grown food has skyrocketed. Unfortunately, seemingly simple solutions like switching to a plant-based diet are also the least realistic. Despite the IPCC’s call for widespread individual diet changes, global meat consumption is expected to increase by over 80 percent by 2050.
That’s why I believe the best and most pragmatic path forward is to ensure that meat – and all food – is produced as sustainably as possible, and why I believe the world’s biggest food brands need to take the lead in doing so.
Tyson Foods – the largest food company in the U.S. – showcased just such leadership today by announcing a new initiative to accelerate sustainable food production, in part through the large-scale deployment of exciting ag tech. Read more
As a working mother, I often have to multi-task. Recently, as I watched my toddler push his food around his plate, I caught up on last week’s news that Fortune had released its annual “Change the World” list of top companies using the profit motive to help the planet and tackle social problems.
About 10 percent of this list consists of corporate leaders who are thinking critically about the challenge to feed our world in a sustainable way without destroying our planet, including companies like Kroger (#6), Walmart (#16), Tyson Foods (#44), McDonald’s (#50) and PepsiCo (#57). These companies know that a thriving community requires a fed community.
While I’m thankful to Fortune for sharing best practices from these incredible, game-changing companies, I’m also painfully aware that the corporate sector at large has a lot more work to do: a recent survey by Bain & Company found that only four percent of companies feel that they’ve succeeded in achieving their sustainability goals, while 47 percent feel that they’ve failed altogether.
Speaking as both a mother and a sustainable supply chain specialist, that’s simply not good enough. We are already facing the massive challenge of producing even more food with fewer inputs. We are already facing increasingly variable weather. And in just a few decades, our planet will be home to 2 billion more people to feed.
What’s my point? Next year, food and agriculture companies, I want to see more of you on Fortune’s list. So to help you on this quest, I’m officially issuing you a two-part challenge: