Children's health and food

Advocating for mandatory reporting

We are working with The Food Foundation to advocate for the Government to introduce mandatory reporting for food companies.

Partner: The Food Foundation 

Funding amount: £42,888 

Duration: 8 months 

Programme: Children’s health and food


What we are doing together

We are working with The Food Foundation, a charity fighting for healthier, more sustainable food systems, and investment managers Rathbone Greenbank, to galvanise investors to advocate for the Government to introduce mandatory reporting for food companies on their health and sustainability sales data.  

Investors represent a commercial voice that can credibly articulate how businesses not acting on health is a risk, both for individual companies and the wider economy – and conversely – that embracing health and sustainability can bring economic opportunities. 

We believe that a greater prioritisation of health and sustainability is more likely if businesses are held publicly accountable for the results of their actions, particularly by their investors. Our 2020 report with Collaboration for Healthier Lives concluded that this transparency is essential if companies are to decouple overall sales growth from the sale of unhealthy products.  

Mandatory reporting is one of the recommendations made in the National Food Strategy  for all food companies with more than 250 employees – including retailers, manufacturers, restaurants, caterers and online ordering platforms. Alongside metrics for food waste and sustainability credentials of animal sourced foods in supply chains, the data to be reported on would include: 

  • Sales of food and drink high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS) 
  • Sales of fruit and vegetables 
  • Sales of protein by type (meat, dairy, fish, plant or alternative protein) and origin 

Mandatory reporting would make this commitment trackable, ensuring that food companies are held to account in a government mandated framework, and that their work to promote healthier products is transparent. This is also important for food businesses outside the supermarket sector, such as manufacturers, restaurants, and online food ordering platforms that currently lag behind when it comes to disclosure of how much healthy versus unhealthy food they sell.  

The government is due to publish its White Paper response to the National Food Strategy in Spring 2022, and we are leveraging the voice of major investors to contribute to the weight of evidence and support for new reporting legislation. This includes lobbying government directly and developing relationships with key departments such as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). 

We also work with Access to Nutrition Initiative and Share Action’s Healthy Markets [] investor coalitions to engage food businesses to improve the availability of healthy, affordable food. Together we’ve worked to persuade five of the largest food retailers, covering 60% of the UK grocery market, to report on their sales of non-HFSS products and commit to increasing sales of healthier products. 

Aims of the partnership

The ultimate aim of our work together is for children and families living on lower incomes to have greater access to nutritious food, rather than be flooded by the cheapest and least healthy options every time they shop.  

If targets set for promoting and producing healthier food options are met, this will significantly increase the affordability and accessibility of nutritious food and make it easier for families to live a healthy lifestyle.  

Connection to our strategy

One of our strategic aims is to make nationwide food policies healthier, and to ensure everyone, no matter what they earn and where they live can get affordable nutritious food. Among the ways we can do this is by working with a wide coalition of stakeholders, from investors to retailers and manufacturers to influence the important role they play in the nation’s diet. 

Part of this comes through advocating for new government policies around reporting, and an acknowledgement that the issues that food industry face are complex and require us all to work together to ultimately improve the nation’s health.  

Policies like mandatory reporting help to create creating a level playing field that will help investors and consumers to reward the most responsible businesses and improve food in schools, shops, and food outlets in our neighbourhoods. Well-designed regulation on what businesses must report can also help their process of build long-term thinking and strategies on health and sustainability into their business models.   

While mandatory reporting is just one piece of the puzzle, a change in policy could have far-reaching effects, and emphasize to industry and to the public, that a healthy diet is important for individuals and society as a whole.  

“Our partnership has meant we are able to dedicate the time and resources needed to kick-start an investor coalition to engage with government on food policy, while also benefitting from Impact on Urban Health’s expertise in the sector.   

“A channel through which investors can collectively engage with food policy is one of the big gaps we wanted to fill with this project. This has led to the initial development of a longer-term strategy for influencing investors and policy makers in the UK and internationally.” 

Will Nicholson, Project Lead for Plating Up Progress at The Food Foundation 

More about the Food Foundation

Find out more about the Food Foundation by visiting their website

Visit the Food Foundation's website