Businesses, governments and civil society need to forge trust, find alignment and foster collaboration and coordination to secure the future of food and nutrition, as food systems in Southeast Asia and the world hang in delicate balance.
This is the conclusion from a recent report by Forum for the Future and FrieslandCampina, “Addressing food and nutrition security through partnerships and strong business leadership”, launched on Friday 26 June. The report was written in consultation with representatives from the entire food value chain, including agri-food multinational companies, crop producers, financial institutions, retailers, academia, nutritionists, and international and non-governmental organizations. For the first time, non-traditional stakeholders such as logistics and packaging companies were also invited to participate in the conversation.
Growing population, scarcity of resources
Piet Hilarides, Chief Operating Officer, FrieslandCampina Asia: “As a leading global dairy cooperative, we work with farmers and other value chain partners in Southeast Asia to provide high-quality, sustainable milk and dairy products to our consumers.
“We have a responsibility to lead the industry, to be part of the solution to our future’s food and nutrition security, and are proud to have commissioned this report to accelerate efforts in achieving food and nutrition security in Southeast Asia.”
Four key areas
In May 2015, FrieslandCampina and its partner, Forum for the Future, convened a roundtable comprising of 21 stakeholders in Singapore. Together, the group identified four key areas where businesses can and are already acting on food and nutrition security that can be scaled up:
- Agricultural sustainability – Enabling sustainable production with improved land management, biodiversity conservation and strengthening the livelihoods of farmers.
- Supply chain infrastructure – Identifying areas of waste, inefficiency, bottlenecks as well as opportunities to act through the entire food supply chain in the region.
- Product innovation for nutrition – Ensuring the development of healthier products and improving access to more affordable staple and locally grown fresh produce.
- Promoting healthier eating and lifestyle choices – Shifting consumer behaviour so that consumers can purchase healthier foods, live more active lifestyles and reduce food waste.
To accelerate progress in these areas, the group offered three main recommendations for systems change on food and nutrition security:
- For businesses and groups of businesses working on smallholder agricultural sustainability to coordinate their efforts.
- For businesses in logistics, packaging and information and communications technologies (ICT) to work with those in the food supply chain to optimize efficiency and reduce waste.
- For companies, government bodies and NGOs to create a shared approach to engaging the consumer on better diet and lifestyle choices.
These recommendations are merely the start of a conversation, and the challenges, solutions and recommendations need further investigation. The next steps include asking for feedback on where the greatest potential for collaboration is in South East Asia and developing the recommendations with the key stakeholders and experts.
Open invitation for collaboration
FrieslandCampina and Forum for the Future invite all stakeholders to get in touch if they are interested in working together, to accelerate scale in better food and nutrition security in Southeast Asia and the rest of the world. Multiple solutions from multiple stakeholders are required up and down the food value chain.
Ariel Muller, Director, Asia Pacific, Forum for the Future, said: “This report truly affirms and underscores the ability of multi-stakeholder partnerships to address complex sustainability challenges, and we believe that together we can reimagine the value created across food networks and restore resilience within the system.“
Mr Hilarides added: “Food and nutrition security is a complex issue; no one entity can solve this global problem on its own. The roundtable highlighted that a collective effort among different players is necessary in order to bring about change. Innovation will be the core driver to leverage entrepreneurial mindsets in order to find success in scaling up and accelerating solutions.
“We intend to share this report widely and invite any business involved in the food value chain in Southeast Asia to use this material to explore food and nutrition security, and find a way to contribute to it – in a way that builds, rather than duplicates, what is already happening.”