Good Food Economy

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A Good Food Economy implies a thriving supply chain from ‘farm to fork’. It supports decent livelihoods for farmers, fishers and food producers at home and abroad, and ensures manufacturers, suppliers, retailers and caterers make healthy and sustainable options the easy and attractive choice for everyone, with minimal waste.

We all have the ability to change our food system by ‘voting with our purse’, but what we eat is largely influenced by those who supply our food.

To transform our food system, we need existing and new enterprises to put sustainability at the heart of their businesses: From those manufacturers creating a circular food economy by giving food a value that would otherwise go to waste to those retailers shortening supply chains and building in better trading standards. We need to see a growth in these innovative and alternative businesses, as much as we need to shift mainstream practices to become more sustainable.

With more and more food being eaten or prepared outside the home, catering and procurement offers one of the most effective ways to drive large scale changes by ensuring more of the produce is healthier and meets higher ethical standards, supporting producer livelihoods and protecting the planet. With £2 billion of taxpayers money spent on food in our schools, hospitals, and other public settings, national, regional and local Government should lead by example, making sure the food they buy is healthy, and sustainable.

Food and farming is the UK’s largest employer, with 4.1 million people working in this sector in 2018. That’s 1 in 7 of the UK’s workforce.

Over 95% of groceries are sold through 9 retailers*

Every £1 spent locally through shorter supply chains could generate £3 in social, economic and environmental value. *

“Food, farming and fishing are being overlooked as mechanisms to drive economic recovery across the UK. And yet these sectors, particularly when more environmentally sustainable and making healthier options more accessible, affordable and attractive, could deliver on more jobs and better livelihoods.”
Ben Reynolds, Deputy Chief Executive, Sustain

What we're fighting for today

Ensuring that all public sector settings, such as hospitals and schools, serve and buy healthy and sustainable food from businesses that create good food jobs, without undermining the health of people or planet.

Championing high standards throughout the food supply chain and using Government policy to ensure good practice become commonplace, e.g. serving certified sustainable fish, organic and fairly traded food, less but better meat, minimising waste and paying the Living Wage.

Encouraging growth in smaller, diverse enterprises that champion good food and build these standards into their business to create a more resilient food economy.

Our campaigns:

Since 2002 London Food Link has championed hundreds of diverse good food businesses through initiatives such as the Urban Food Awards, our Good Food Retail work with the GLA, the Better Food Traders Network and Impact Hub’s Feeding the City initiative.

Between 2016 and 2019, Food Coops teamed up with student body NUS on their Student Eats initiative to create 28 food enterprises on university or college campuses, enabling over 1000 students to gain and improve their employability skills.

Real Bread Campaign champions and supports around 1000 small, local, independent Real Bread bakers and have helped more than 10,000 children in at least 150 schools learn to make Real Bread.

Roots to Work is a platform to advertise and find sustainable food jobs in the UK, whose aim is to help improve the food system by raising the profile of career opportunities within the sector.

950 million meals served by caterers committing to sustainable fish in 2019 thanks to Sustainable Fish Cities.


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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

© Sustain 2021
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