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Sustainable Livelihoods

What is it and why does it matter?

Ensuring that no person, worker or community is left behind in the transition to a more sustainable food system. This will require balancing fair pay and working conditions with the creation of new, sustainable jobs to create a system that supports economically resilient communities and has local sourcing at its core. It will also involve balancing the true cost of sustainable food production with affordability. 

A key future theme for agenda setters who see and understand the nuance and importance of ensuring we bring farmers on the sustainability journey. Also important for some customers and is commonly cited in larger customer's sustainability manifestos.

While a less tangible theme for consumers, it is likely there is a link to the importance of supporting local and in that overlap, there may be opportunity for producers to play positive impacts along the supply chains.


Of dairy industry buyers believe that “ensuring sustainable livelihoods for all producing and supplying food” is important when choosing a supplier


Of Irish consumers say products that are “fair to workers and suppliers” influence their grocery choice



Social Audits

Lidl's sustainability strategy includes annual social audits across supply chains to find areas of risk around labour and human rights (IGD, 2021) 

Insights from 

Agenda Setters

Agenda setters see this as a key future issue that will rise in prominence and importance in the coming years. In Ireland there is a recognition of the connection between the decarbonisation of Ireland’s food system and the economic prosperity of the agri-food sector. Expert stakeholders were firm that the shift to a low carbon economy cannot come at the expense of sustainable livelihoods and a just transition.​

The key themes are:

  • The ‘Just Transition’ and Climate Justice
  • Need for balance between attaining planetary goals like Carbon and People goals …that include sustainable livelihoods and supporting emerging economies 


Broadly a mid ranking topic for buyers among other sustainability attributes – with slightly more importance placed on the issue within their own business as opposed to when choosing suppliers, driven by its presence in some customer manifestos and policies. Worth noting that in major retailers – just transition is a common topic in stated / published sustainability goals.


Contributing to the community or being fair to workers and suppliers are not key drivers of grocery choice for consumers, and do not stand out for any one sector. Nor are they seen as very closely associated to sustainability. However, as more pressure comes from stakeholders, this may well come onto the shopper radar. 

In China, there is a particular emphasis on products contributing to the community, presumably driven by a desire for products to support Chinese producers and companies. We generally see this as more important in developing markets. While the concept of “fairness” to workers and suppliers emerges more in developed Western European markets, e.g., Ireland 

McDonalds Corporate Sustainability Policy - 

We are helping to create a future of quality, secure and sustainable food because how our food is produced and where it comes from matters to our customers, communities and the environment. This includes sourcing quality ingredients in responsible ways and supporting farming communities
Insights & Implications
Insights & Implications

Review the headline insights from the Global Food Sustainability Outlook research.

Review the Insights & Implications