Transforming food systems for people and planet

Our food systems are failing consumers. Over three billion people cannot afford a healthy diet, and nearly 800 million face chronic hunger. The impact on our environment is similarly devastating – food systems are responsible for approximately one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions, and over 80% of biodiversity loss. 

It is clear that a fundamental transformation is needed in the way we produce, distribute, and consume food. Achieving this requires upholding people’s fundamental right to food, making healthy and sustainable diets more available, accessible, and affordable, and building future food systems that are resilient, fair, and inclusive. 

The challenges of hunger, malnutrition, climate crisis, biodiversity loss, and more, cannot be resolved without a food systems approach, unlocking co-ordinated action at national and global levels. We need wide-reaching solutions based on collaboration between food systems stakeholders, starting from the rights and needs of people and planet. 

Our Action Agenda for Future Food Systems 

A consumer lens on food systems transformation makes clear the need for interconnected action – to simultaneous reshape production, distribution, and consumption, and to break down barriers between action on food security, nutrition, safety, and sustainability. 

Our Action Agenda for Future Food Systems offers an overview of the transformation needed to meet the rights and needs of people and planet – drawing on a survey of Consumers International members; and three multi-stakeholder dialogues in Kenya, Ecuador, and Indonesia, held in partnership with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). 

The Action Agenda highlights four key areas of transformation: 

A consumer voice in global governance 

To deliver food systems transformation, governance at all levels must necessarily become more inclusive, centring people’s rights and needs; yet consumer perspectives are too rarely heard in food systems governance, especially at global level. 

We represent the global consumer voice in key international bodies and summits, including through: 

  • Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). 
  • General Consultative Status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), representing the consumer voice at major international moments, including climate and biodiversity COPs. 
  • Co-leading the UN Food Systems Summit action track on ‘Shifting to healthy and sustainable consumption’, and sitting on the steering committee of the resulting Coalition of Action on Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems. 
  • Official observer status at the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the global food standard-setting body. 
  • Participating in the Coordination Committee of the Civil Society and Indigenous People’s Mechanism (CSIPM) of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS). 

Delivering fair food prices for all 

We work closely with members to deliver solutions at national level, responding to the most urgent challenges facing consumers. Our work on Fair Food Prices has exposed the risk of excessive pricing as a result of market concentration and insufficient competition, especially in lower-income countries. 

We brought together consumer groups and competition authorities from across 21 African countries to explore the threat of unfair food prices on the continent, and to shape solutions; and together with members in Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria we piloted the Fair Food Price Monitor, a new early warning system for flagging potential unfair food prices. 

We have also championed the issue of unfair food prices at global level, presenting findings to the UN Global Crisis Response Group, and leading a side event at the Committee on World Food Security.

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Unlocking healthy and sustainable diets 

For consumers to play their part in achieving food systems transformation, healthy and sustainable diets must be made available, accessible, and affordable for all. Government policy and business practices alike need to change, to create food environments that give consumers greater agency in the marketplace, as well as the power to make positive choices.  

We bring together groups of members at regional level to build evidence and shape recommendations on actions needed from business and government to transform food environments. Recent initiatives have included our report on tackling unhealthy diets in Latin America, together with seven members and in partnership with the FAO, and on promoting healthy and sustainable diets in South Asia, bringing together members in India and Bangladesh.  

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Building bridges for future food systems 

As the challenges facing food systems continue to multiply, it is not enough to protect people from existing threats. Consumers must be actively engaged in building a better marketplace, and have a unique perspective to contribute on solutions ranging from agroecology and regenerative food production, through to resilient local food systems, and tackling loss and waste.  

To achieve this vision, we need to build bridges between stakeholders for more effective collaboration. Consumers International is working hard to break down barriers – especially those between consumers and farmers. As part of the UN Food Systems Summit process, we held a series of global consumer-farmer dialogues in partnership with the World Farmers’ Organisation; and at COP28, co-convened a session with the World Rural Forum on ‘Connecting consumers and family farmers to tackle food and climate crises’. 

Watch the COP28 session we co-convened with the World Rural Forum on ‘Connecting consumers and family farmers to tackle food and climate crises’.

Join us  

Consumers International works with our members around the world, as well as a diverse network of partners, to deliver collaborative action towards food systems transformation. 

If you are interested to learn more about our work, or to explore opportunities for partnership, please contact impact@consint.org.

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