Building a sustainable food system

This on-going project addresses the broad issue of how to feed a further expansion of the world’s population in the face of climate change while addressing the industry’s own contribution to climate change, including unsustainable practices like deforestation. 

While taking a holistic view, BMO recognise the need to engage companies on specific, material issues, whether they be cattle raising in Brazil or food retailing on the UK high street. Their one-to-one conversations have focused on the uptake of plant-based proteins, deforestation, and the climate impact of agriculture. For companies further down the value chain, effective supplier engagement remains key to success both for traceability and support to address environmental impact including climate change. BMO engaged with 30 companies directly on 48 separate occasions. 

Aside from conducting this one-to-one engagement, BMO also engaged collaboratively through initiatives like FAIRR, ShareAction, and ICCR. ShareAction Healthy Markets and ICCR’s Food Equity and Racial Justice both seek to address chronic health issues, such as UK child obesity, and those affecting the US Black and Latinx communities. They also joined a FAIRR collaboration focusing on labour conditions in the meat supply chain, where the impact of Covid-19 exposed unsafe practices and the lack of worker input on health and safety issues. BMO have also increased public policy engagement, including calling for alignment of EU agricultural policy with net-zero commitments, and urging the UK government to take an ambitious approach to addressing environmental impacts of the food system. 

While a wider agreement to tackle deforestation in Brazil still seems far off, BMO did see significant movement on traceability commitments among soy traders, where ADM and Cargill pushed forward target dates for monitoring indirect suppliers and JBS and Minerva further developed capabilities to remotely survey their supply chains. Retailers such as Casino Guichard have engaged suppliers on greenhouse gas emissions reduction. In engagement on labour standards with JBS, the company explained how uptake of their grievance channels had increased and how the company had established roundtables for worker dialogue.