Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

16 October 2022

World Food Day

Private companies of all sizes need to create inclusive markets with business models that respect human rights, promote decent work and gender equality, value accountability and respect the environment.

Private companies need to take action to promote greater inclusion. Marginalized groups such as women, youth and indigenous people are often excluded from decision-making processes, yet they are key players in transforming agrifood systems. Ensuring inclusive growth helps to make everyone equal agents of sustainable development.

Food systems are responsible for more than one-third of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), contributing significantly to climate change. This disproportionately affects the world’s rural poor who rely on agriculture for a living. The private sector must pioneer responsible practices of production and consumption, while the food industry can source sustainably produced ingredients, reduce waste and opt for more sustainable packaging.

The food industry should source, produce and promote affordable, nutritious foods while the hospitality sector must put healthy, minimally processed foods on the menu, and work to improve food safety and quality. Public establishments such as schools, universities or hospitals should be the first to demand healthy food options from catering companies.

Private companies need to be fully engaged in global sustainable development to contribute to achieving the goals of the 2030 Agenda. They need to create inclusive markets, prioritize standard development principles, human rights and accountability, and support international organizations and local nongovernmental organizations when engaging in developing countries.

Roughly one-third of all food produced for human consumption is either lost or wasted. Yet hunger continues to increase as well as the recent demand for food banks, even in some of the world’s most developed economies. The food retail and hospitality sectors can play a key role in helping reduce food waste and ensuring that those suffering are not left without. Supermarkets and restaurants can join programmes to donate safe foods that would otherwise spoil or be wasted to food banks or relief organisations.

Increases in rural poverty are often coupled with additional negative social consequences for rural communities, such as increases in migration or child labour in agriculture. Private sector stakeholders can help make agriculture profitable again and provide opportunities for people to stay at home, if safe to do so, by accelerating inclusive investments in rural areas and granting access to finance.

Science, innovation and technology are key components for sustainable development. Greater investments in these three fields can help those left furthest behind by driving economic growth, fostering social inclusion and environmental protection. If private companies increase investments, they can develop and sustain existing socioeconomic and political structures that facilitate knowledge creation.

Companies should create business models that respect human rights, promote decent work, and protect employees. High levels of informal employment within agriculture represent a major barrier to many, not just the poor, against accessing social protection. This leaves many vulnerable to the consequences of shocks. Providing social protection should not be perceived as a cost, but an investment. It not only protects employees, but also enhances their economic and productive potential, also benefiting employers in the long run.

Work with FAO and other global businesses to build a future, where everyone has access to a sustainable, healthy diet. Support efforts by governments to implement the Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition offered by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS). This inclusive platform allows stakeholders to work together to ensure food security and nutrition for all. The CFS’s Framework for Action for Food Security and Nutrition in Protracted Crises, also offers a comprehensive list of actions to help address such issues in times of prolonged or recurrent crises.