Plant-Based Global Standard
The popularity of plant-based food has been gathering momentum and reflects a growing sense of unease amongst some consumers over the impact that modern industrial farming methods have on the environment and animal welfare practices, as well as the impact of a predominately meat-based diet on our health.
The recognition that the global food system is responsible for more than a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore a major driver of climate change, has filtered through to the public consciousness and this is influencing how some make choices about food.
A growing number of consumers are considering vegetarianism, veganism or a flexitarian approach because of the purported health benefits a well-balanced plant-based diet offers. The Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food assessed the health and environmental impact of plant-based diets and found that adopting vegetarian diets would prevent 7.3 million deaths per year globally and adopting vegan diets would avoid 8.1 million deaths. It would also cut food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 63% with vegetarian diets and by 70% with vegan diets.
As more and more people seek to maintain a lifestyle that they perceive to be beneficial for the planet and their health, vegetarianism or veganism or experimentation with either is, for many, an appealing choice. The very fact that the term Veganism has evolved to 'plant-based', since it was first coined in 1944 by The Vegan Society, is testament to the broadening popularity of limiting meat consumption and eating plant-based alternatives.
The commercial opportunities created by the rise of vegetarianism, veganism and plant-based diets are clear. In the 2018 the UK launched more vegan products than any other nation and, in Europe, one in ten (9%) food products launched in 2018 had a vegan or no animal ingredients claim, doubling from 5% in 2015. Nielsen research demonstrates the declining sales of red meat in 2019. This category lost more value than any other with a dip in sales of £185 million, compared to sales of plant-based alternatives which rose more than any other category, up 18%. There is no doubt that demand for plant-based alternatives is growing.
The UN estimates that the global population will reach 9.8 billion by 2050 and this raises many questions about our collective ability to feed the population sustainably from the diminishing resources we have. EAT, a global, non-profit foundation recently teamed up with the Lancet to convene 37 scientists from 16 countries to develop global scientific targets for healthy diets and sustainable food production. They presented an integrated global framework with quantitative scientific targets that demonstrate it is possible to feed the world’s population sustainably.
"Food will be a defining issue of the 21st century. Unlocking its potential will catalyse the achievement of both the SDGs [United Nations Sustainable Development Goals] and Paris Agreement. An unprecedented opportunity exists to develop food systems as a common thread between many international, national, and business policy frameworks aiming for improved human health and environmental sustainability. Establishing clear, scientific targets to guide food system transformation is an important step in realizing this opportunity".
Manufacturing sites are advised to complete the Plant-Based Program Schedule A before their audit.
The BRCGS Plant-Based Schedule A Guidance will help you understand how to complete Schedule A.