Towards a sustainable food industry: Part I – The Property Chronicle
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Towards a sustainable food industry: Part I

Golden Oldie

This article was originally published in November 2020.

Many farming and food companies are investing or plan to invest in improving the sustainability of food production. This Craigmore commentary, the first in a three-part mini-series, examines the strategies of food companies and farmers to improve their environmental footprints. While sustainability is a much broader topic, this series focuses only on strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and climate change mitigation.

This first part in the series looks at the commitments to reduce net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions recently made by companies ranging from Tyson Foods (US) to Tesco (UK) and the movements made by farming industry leaders.

Greenhouse gases and farming

Non-CO2 emissions (methane and nitrous oxide) from agriculture (the production of food and fibre) are estimated to account for approximately 4.8–7.6 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases per annum (IPCC/FAO figure). This accounts for between 9% and 14% of humankind’s total GHG footprint (see IPCC report).

As a result, farmers, food companies and governments are rapidly establishing strategies to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions intensity of farming (and food) systems. Emissions intensity is the amount of greenhouse gases per weight, volume, calorie of food, nutrient or protein produced.

In June 2020 the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change launched the Race to Net Zero campaign to support the global Climate Ambition Alliance to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Impressively, Danone has committed to migrate all the food it brings to market to net zero by 2050 and J. Sainsbury will migrate its operations to net zero (although not necessarily those of its farm suppliers) by 2040. Several food and farming operations, including Fonterra and Craigmore, are working to produce net zero dairy products well before then.

Golden Oldie

About Forbes Elworthy

Forbes Elworthy

Forbes was brought up on Craigmore Station in the South Island of New Zealand and worked as a shepherd in the early part of his career. He then trained in Agricultural Economics at Lincoln University in New Zealand where he was student president in 1984. He went to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar in 1985. After some time at Goldman Sachs he completed an MBA at Harvard Business School in 1992. Forbes worked as a credit trader at Merrill Lynch from 1992 to 1999 where he headed a convertibles trading desk. He then led financial information publisher Credit Market Analysis which was acquired by Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Forbes returned full time to farming in 2005 to live on and manage Craigmore Station – a sheep, beef and deer property farmed by the Elworthy family since 1864.   From 2009 Forbes partnered with his brother-in-law Mark Cox to create Craigmore Sustainables, a specialist manager of farms and forests in New Zealand. Since 2014 he has been leading a Craigmore sponsored farm information management company called Map Of Agriculture. It provides software and farm data integration systems to help over 80 AgBusinesses including Centre for Dairy Excellence in New Zealand and McDonalds Restaurants in the UK connect to and assist their networks of farms. 

Articles by Forbes Elworthy

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