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Global food companies worth US$2.1 trillion join forces for sustainable farming

The 14 founding members of the First Movers Coalition for Food aim to procure US$10-20 billion of low-carbon farming commodities.
Melodie Michel
Global food companies worth US$2.1 trillion join forces for sustainable farming
Photo by Stijn te Strake on Unsplash

The momentum for food systems transformation continues to grow today with the launch of the First Movers Coalition for Food, which aims to leverage the procurement power of 14 major food companies to accelerate sustainable farming.

The launch comes on the same day that 150 non-state actors including Unilever, Nestlé and Danone have called for the transformation of global food systems, and 134 countries have committed to integrate food into climate plans by 2025, as food takes centre stage at COP28.

Founding members of the First Movers Coalition for Food include include global brands such as Danone, Nestlé and PepsiCo, as well as the UAE’s Majid Al Futtaim, Thailand’s NR Instant Produce; commodity traders Cargill, Louis Dreyfus Company and Olam, meat producers Tyson Foods and JBS, and agrochemical firms Bayer, UPL, Sekem Group and Yara International. 

These have a combined revenue of US$2.1 trillion, and the World Economic Forum (WEF), which is behind the coalition, says more companies could be added to it in the coming months.

Together, they aim to procure between US$10 billion and US$20 billion of low-carbon farming commodities, sending a strong demand signal to accelerate the adoption of environmentally friendly farming methods, including regenerative agriculture

“We recognize how our role in reducing emissions across our value chains has an impact on the long-term sustainable health of people and the planet. As an increasing number of customers make the everyday choice to shop sustainably, we as a retailer have the responsibility to deliver more responsibly sourced and produced products. By joining the First Movers Coalition for Food initiative, we aim to amplify the demand for low-emission products and partner with those promoting nature-positive practices, fostering resilient agricultural systems with improved biodiversity and reduced water usage,” said Ahmed Galal Ismail, Chief Executive of Majid Al Futtaim.

Identifying food transformation pathways

Starting this month, the WEF, participating companies and governments plan to work together to “identify the demand commitments and pathways to support and mobilise the ecosystem to enable such transformation”, with initial results expected in mid-2024.

Supporting these companies in the process are advisory and research organisations including Bain & Company, Ginko Bioworks, Grow Asia, IDH, Indigo Ag, International Rice Research Institute, Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory, Tropical Forest Alliance and the University of Tokyo – and the coalition is also backed by the Government of the United Arab Emirates.

Manny Maceda, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Bain & Company hopes the coalition will “decrease the risks associated with required investments in low-emissions agri-food production, make it easier to expand to net-zero and nature-positive technologies, and help farmers adopt greener practices such as regenerative agriculture.”

Following in the footsteps of the First Movers Coalition for Industry

The First Movers Coalition for Food follows the launch of the First Movers Coalition for Industry at COP26 in Glasgow, which also aimed to aggregate purchasing demand to accelerate clean technology development in eight hard-to-abate industries: aviation, shipping, trucking, steel, aluminium, concrete and cement, and chemicals. 

According to WEF, the coalition has grown to 95 members since its 2021 launch, and resulted in 120 purchasing commitments and 94 signed offtake agreements collectively worth more than US$15 billion.

"This is the most significant demand signal for clean technologies for industrial sectors that the world has ever seen," says the Forum.

Read also: FAO warns of US$2 trillion in damage from agrifood systems impact