Sunday 25th September 2016                 Change text size:

Asda acknowledges climate change will affect business and food production



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Supermarket giant Asda has acknowledged the risks that climate change will present to its business, and in particular its fresh produce, in a new report. The research suggests that 95% of the fresh produce the retailer currently sells could be under threat.

In a report with consultancy firm PwC, the supermarket examines the drivers that underpin its supply chain and how future changes in climate have the potential to impact upon them. It states, “No longer is climate change a subject just for environmentalists, it is already having an impact on businesses around the world and across all sectors.”

The research found that just 5% of Asda’s fresh produce would not be affected by changes in the climate, with some product ranges already being affected.

The report backs up separate research that suggested climate change could reduce crop yields as soon as 2030. Another study also warned that a reliance on fewer crop and deceasing crop diversity is making the global food system more vulnerable to the impacts of a warming world.

This problem is further exacerbated when a growing population and increasing prosperity are factored in. In order to meet demand in 2050, the world needs to sustainably produce 70% more food, as measured in calories, to feed 9.6 billion people, rather than the 7 billion in 2012, according to a report back by the UN.

Paul Kelly, vice-president of corporate affairs at Asda, said, “We know that this century will see changes in climate that we have to deal with; in fact some of these impacts have already been seen, with extreme weather events disrupting communities, infrastructure and business right across Britain.

“The role of responsible business is to adapt to change, help others to do so, and work with suppliers and customers to make sure we cut carbon emissions and deliver a more stable climate future for our children.”

The report identifies £101.9m that is at risk because of vulnerabilities in the countries from which Asda currently source their products. Additionally, £163.9m of value is exposed because of potential risks in its processing sites and product ingredients, whilst infrastructure disruption makes £103.8m of its value vulnerable.

The figures highlight how vital it is for businesses to understand the potential impacts climate change could have on all areas of a firm and assess how best to respond to the challenges.

Photo: vjeran2001 via Freeimages  

Further reading:

Food bank use continues to rise, with 54% increase in 12 months

Study: food of the future needs to be sustainable and healthy

UN Global Compact unveils principles for sustainable food

Fish ‘undernourished and underfed’ due to deforestation, study suggests

World needs to sustainably produce 70% more food by 2050


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