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Protein Challenge 2040: Collaboration and communication in action

Protein Challenge 2040: Collaboration and communication in action

 

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Sustainability is a challenge for everyone involved in the agri-food sector. Yet despite a plethora of sustainability initiatives across the industry, is real progress being made? We caught up with Andy Richardson, from Volac, who is co-founder of an innovative new project that has communication and collaboration at its heart and which is gaining momentum...

When it comes to food, it is usually fat and sugar that get all the attention. Whether it's obesity or the threat of diabetes, these two food groups are firmly in the spotlight. Yet when it comes to sustainability, protein gets rather more profile, particularly since the launch of the Protein Challenge 2040 project, which sees organisations collaborating globally to try to address the challenges ahead.

"We are running out of resources to feed a growing population with protein and so a global solution is required," explained Andy Richardson, Head of Corporate Affairs at Volac. "There are lots of bits of activity going on in many different organisations, but there needs to be a co-ordinated approach to really deliver solutions."

Volac is a firm believer in collaborating to create change, and that is how Andy ended up co-founding the Protein Challenge 2040 initiative and providing leadership through the steering group of this innovative project. "One of Volac's core values is collaboration, with ambition being another," he said. "We firmly believe that on big issues you have to work with others to create change."

The Protein Challenge 2040 project, which is facilitated by Forum for the Future, is one such example of collaboration in practice. This ambitious project started out as just an idea, and involved a lot of perseverance to get off the ground.

"Business is all about competition, so it is sometimes hard for organisations to accept the need to collaborate, particularly if that collaboration is with competitors," said Andy. "It takes time and open communication, but we now have real momentum for
the project."

Project partners include the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Volac, Quorn, WWF, The Hershey Company, Waitrose and Target. What is particularly interesting is that the organisations that signed up initially could be seen to be coming from very different points of view. 

"We had to be really open and very sensitive to the fact that organisations were coming from very different places to make sure that we actively listened to, and respected, everyone's perspective. It has been important to focus on the things we agree on rather than those that we don't," said Andy. 

"It is all about establishing mutual benefit and trust, and trust has to be earned. As such, our communication was all about the ideas - we had to explain what we were trying to achieve and not take a positive or negative stance to certain thorny issues but simply focus on the wider challenges that affect us all."

This is an ambitious project, but why did Volac get so involved from an early stage? "Our involvement with this project is all about making a real difference towards our aim of achieving a healthier more sustainable world. We are also gaining valuable insight into the protein market and developing our understanding of the long-term drivers," Andy explained. "Whilst some of the project activity might not be directly related to our own business, involvement with a collaboration like this is all about developing deeper relationships across supply chains and forming common ground on issues that face us all.

"The outcome will be practical interventions which make a real impact for sustainable protein."

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The Protein Challenge 2040 is looking for collaborators - ambitious and pioneering organisations and people within and related to the agriculture and food industries - who want to take practical action to drive the change to a sustainable protein system. To get involved, contact Simon Billing at Forum for the Future on s.billing@forumforthefuture.org

Written by Reverberate at 12:00

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