Danone North America, Mars Inc, Nestlé USA (no relation), and Unilever US have left the Grocery Manufacturers Association to form a new organization, the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance.
Its stated purpose (as explained in the press release):
- Consumer Transparency: Improving the quality and accessibility of information available to consumers about the food they purchase for themselves and their families.
- Environment: Advocating for innovative, science-based solutions to take action against the costly impacts of climate change, build more resilient communities, promote renewable energy, and further develop sustainable agriculture systems.
- Food Safety: Ensuring the quality and safety of food products and the global supply chain.
- Nutrition: Developing and advocating for policies that help people make better-informed food choices that contribute to healthy eating while supporting sustainable environmental practices.
- People and Communities: Advancing policies that promote a strong, diverse, and healthy workplace and support the supply chain, including rural economies.
The Alliance says it intends to:
- Urge policymakers to ensure the Farm Bill and other farm policies emphasize water quality and conservation issues, improved soil health, and renewable energy (particularly wind and solar).
- Explore the economics of sustainability, including financial incentives to reduce emissions and transition to low-carbon alternatives and to create value for farmers, ranchers, and others.
- Advocate on behalf of environmental policies at the state, national, and international levels, including the Paris Climate Agreement and Clean Power Plan.
Sounds good, no?
As I told the Washington Post, I would like
to see how the four companies address more inconvenient environmental and public health policies, such as limits on bottling water from national forests or mandated, front-of-package nutrition labeling. Those policies could potentially threaten their bottom lines — an issue Danone’s Lozano said his company did not face with its current efforts around sustainability.
Let’s give them credit for going after the low-hanging fruit first…But the real questions are what they will really do, and when.