A group of 40 investors managing $1.25 trillion in assets have launched a campaign to encourage 16 global food companies to change the way they source protein for their products to help to reduce environmental and health risks.
Among the companies targeted were Kraft Heinz, Nestle, Unilever, Tesco and Walmart, a statement by the Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return Initiative, which organized the investor group.
"The world's over reliance on factory farmed livestock to feed the growing global demand for protein is a recipe for a financial, social and environmental crisis," said Jeremy Coller, founder of the FAIRR initiative. Pollution from intensive livestock production is already at too high a level, while safety and welfare standards are too low. Experts conclude that the industry cannot cope with the projected increase in global protein demand.
The campaign follows an Oxford University study which said $1.5 trillion in healthcare and climate change-related costs could be saved by 2050 if people reduced their reliance on meat in their diet.
The study also pointed to growing political pressure on companies to change, citing a consultation in Denmark on the introduction of a red meat tax and a Chinese government plan to reduce its citizens' meat consumption by 50 percent.
Analysts say the need to change food production models is essential to help to limit climate change.
Forward-looking companies can move now to encourage more sustainable diets by reducing reliance on meat and growing the market for plant-based protein alternatives.
The other companies written to by FAIRR were General Mills, Mondelez International, Ahold-Delhaize, The Co-operative Group, Costco Wholesale Corporation, Kroger Company, Marks & Spencer, Wm Morrison Supermarkets, Ocado, Sainsbury's and Whole Foods Market.
In terms of timetables and targets, this is still a relatively new area. The focus for companies is to innovate great tasting solutions to encourage consumers to try them and over time make small, sustainable shifts towards a higher plant-based diet.
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