Food manufacturers have grown used to engaging in the debate about the health of the nation in recent years. They fully understand why they have been challenged to play a positive role in finding solutions to the complex issues at the heart of society’s concerns about rising obesity levels. Now, they are facing a much bigger, and potentially even more complex, debate about another massive issue - the health of the planet.

Recognising that issues relating to sustainability were shooting up the political agenda, and that these concerns were rightly starting to resonate with consumers, FDF established a Steering Group of members earlier this year, to provide industry with a strategic and proactive lead on the many issues it faces.

The good news is that the industry is not starting from a low base. Take carbon reduction, for example. Between 1990 and 2005, the industry has cut its carbon footprint by more than 15% and it continues to build on this achievement through FDF’s voluntary Climate Change Agreement with government.

That’s just one of the issues on which the industry has made real progress. And it remains actively involved in generating ideas on the measures needed to improve sustainability in areas such as energy use, water, waste and food transportation.

But this is just the beginning: the industry recognises that it has an important part to play in the debate about how best to reduce our environmental impact - a debate in which we are clearly willing to engage.