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New Year is the time for making resolutions, so perhaps “Let’s save the world” is not such a bad ambition to espouse as we launch ourselves into 2007. The Federation of Wholesale Distributors is indeed playing its part to achieve this lofty ideal through its membership of a Government backed strategic steering group comprised of individuals from across the food industry.

‘Sustainability’ is today’s favourite buzzword in Government departments grappling with the threat of global warming and the need to manage the planet’s resources more efficiently. As its name would suggest, the Department of the Environment, Food and Local Affairs (Defra) is leading the Whitehall charge on this by pushing the sustainability issue to the top of its agenda.

As part of this effort, FWD has joined the steering group that is sponsored by Defra and charged with helping to further its Food Industry Sustainability Strategy (FISS). Essentially, the group’s job is to reflect and advise on the future direction and development of the FISS in the light of developments since its publication last April.

The strategy emphasises the widespread adoption of best practice in all parts of the food industry, from the farm gate to the fork, as the key to continued economic success, while also improving environmental and social performance. To this end, the FISS report also sets out a number of targets that the food industry might achieve such as a reduction in carbon emissions, water usage, etc.

The idea is to identify and encourage best practice programmes to achieve these efficiencies throughout the food industry, including manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and foodservice providers. These cover five main areas, comprising energy use and climate change, industrial and commercial waste, water usage, food transportation, ethical trading and corporate social responsibility.

This can provide a tangible economic payback and this initiative will be getting FWD’s full support. Suppliers are also heavily involved and the Food and Drink Federation has appointed Callton Young to the new post of director of sustainability and competitiveness. The appointment is in fact a two-year secondment from Defra where, among other things, Young headed the Food and Drink Industry Division and was the person instrumental in developing the FISS. His new role will be to develop and take forward existing FDF work in these important areas.

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