UK government proposals for ways to improve the food and drink industry's environmental, economic and social performance are published today.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is consulting on a draft Food Industry Sustainability Strategy (FISS) which sets out how food and drink manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and food service providers can improve their sustainability by adopting best practice widely in priority areas such as energy, water, waste, food transport and through action on areas such as health and nutrition.

The FISS also proposes targets and key performance indicators to encourage and measure progress.

The draft strategy has been developed by ministers and a stakeholder group which included a wide range of interests including food industry representatives, consumer organisations and environmentalists.

The FISS aims in particular to encourage progress by the food and drink industry through closer involvement with programmes such as Envirowise, the Carbon Trust and the Waste and Resources Action Programme.  It builds upon the work of the Food and Drink Federation and the British Retail Consortium, and covers all food and drink sectors beyond the farm gate.

Food and Farming Minister Larry Whitty said: "Sustainability is about a better quality of life for everyone, and the food and drink industry has a major role to play in this given its huge economic, environmental and social importance.  Improved resource efficiency is a win- win as it saves the environment and improves businesses' bottom line."

"Government and industry are working together to tackle a range of issues including pollution, waste, food transport and energy use.

"However, there is still a long way to go and more work is required to ensure that we can build on good practice and roll out sustainable ways of working throughout the food chain."

To see the draft strategy, go to http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/fiss/draft-fiss.pdf .

Deadline for comments is 30 June 2005.