Sustainable food systems – Sustainability, a buzz word that has been in the forefront for both the consumers and the food industry. The climate change, increase in awareness among consumers about environmentally friendly products and the depleting natural resources is driving sustainability in food production and consumption. The need to feed a 9 billion growing population by 2050 is putting a tremendous pressure on food systems.
According to the IDC industrial survey, 30% of food and beverage companies considered consumer’s demand for eco-friendly products as a primary driver for promoting sustainability.
Amidst a sustainable revolution in the food and agriculture industry, let us look at the trends that may shape in 2023.
Challenges in the Food industry
There is a lot of negativities around the food industry. An estimated 768 million people worldwide are undernourished, and 2.37 billion people lack access to enough food. Food and agriculture are the leading causes of deforestation, biodiversity loss, and up to one-third of all freshwater withdrawals and global greenhouse gas emissions. Almost 931 million tonnes of food are wasted and about 45 million people in 43 countries are experiencing a food insecurity emergency.
The world’s 7.6 billion people currently consume more than 1.7 times what the Earth can supply sustainably.
Our food system is broken, The way we produce and consume food is getting to be a significant contributor to climate change and nature loss. Our soils are degraded, rivers polluted, and the oceans are over-exploited. Industrialization has disrupted the natural processes and is driving the destruction of habitats pushing the climate to tipping points.
It is clear that the way we produce and consume food need not destroy nature and wildlife habitats. We can cut food loss, restore nature, reduce carbon emissions and also support the smallholder farmers to provide sustainable and healthy food for all. The way we farm and use our land is crucial as it reduces emissions, restores nature and gives us healthy and nutritious food.
Companies need to be more sustainable.
The pressure and the growing awareness of stakeholders and consumers is bringing a shift in the perspective of food supply chains. The supply chains are moving away from optimization and maximum efficiency towards sustainability. The new laws and regulations introduced in countries are pushing companies to transit to green supply chains. Besides conscious consumerism is driving accountability in these companies to work towards a sustainable future.
The food system challenges require more pulling from government policies, public-private partnerships, finance, technology and innovation, corporate action and stakeholder coalitions. Businesses have a strategic role to play and anchor sustainable food supply chains that can meet the environmental and social goals.
Countries can set roadmaps to evolve sustainable food systems that nourish the growing population, empower the farmers with better livelihoods, build climate resilience and reach the net-zero goals.
5 Sustainability Trends to watch out.
Consumers today want to know where their food comes from and how it is produced. Conscious consumerism is on the rise with consumers wanting to know how the product they buy impacts the environment too. Traceability systems help to build trust in the food system by providing the required transparency and accountability in the entire supply chain.
The tracking of the movement of raw materials to the finished product helps to maintain consistency and quality in the food supply chain and also addresses any safety incidents and take corrective action.
Consumers want to make informed decisions about the food they consume and are seeking information on food labels. They want to know if the food they consume is sustainably produced, ethically sourced, and supports the indigenous communities.
Traceability will be a great way to strengthen brand trust with consumers and stakeholders.
Circular economy is one of the important sustainability trends. The system aims to eliminate waste and promote continuous use of resources by designing waste and pollution and regenerating natural systems. The resources are kept longer with minimal wastage and protection of the environment. The world’s food systems needs to transit to a nature positive framework and become resilient to further shocks and ensure environmental sustainability and nutritional security to all.
A transition towards a circular economy offers tools to enhance and optimize the sustainability of the ecosystem. Circular economy is a closed loop of materials and products that reduce resource consumption and benefits the climate, contributing to reduction in global warming. This would entail reducing the amount of waste generated, reusing food, using by-products, recycling nutrients and diversifying diet patterns
Supply Chain Management
Lack of visibility in supply chains is the biggest challenge to supply chain sustainability as companies work with suppliers in multiple tiers. Food waste in the supply chain contributes to two of the major challenges faced today, hunger and climate change.
The food industry holds a great responsibility towards the utilization of resources to reduce food wastage and improve food security. Technology providers can offer solutions that contribute to a healthier and equitable world. Technology needs to be utilized to reduce the dependency on artificial resources. Processing valuable byproducts during the manufacturing processes adds to the cost-saving and sustainability advantage. Many companies are looking to eliminate waste in their manufacturing, shipping, and retail and are also working to reuse food waste in their products to promote sustainability.
The conventional meat and dairy industry has a massive impact on the environment contributing to GHG emissions. The plant-based meat and dairy alternatives have stormed the market and is expected to have a tremendous boom in the next decade.
Producing plant-based alternatives require fewer resources and produces lesser emissions compared to animal-based products. It also results in water saving as plant-based food require less water. Due to the reduced demand for land use and the impact of animal agriculture, plant-based alternatives help to protect biodiversity. These foods are often less in saturated fat and thereby provide health benefits.
Some of the plant-based meat alternatives include burgers and sausages made from soy and wheat protein. Th plant-based dairy alternatives for milk and cheese are made from almonds, oats and soy. Eggs substitutes are made from tofu and chickpea flour.
Plant-based alternatives are important for driving sustainability. Reduction in resource usage, promoting biodiversity, improving health and meeting consumer demand are few of the benefits.
Conservation of Natural Resources
Conservation of natural resources is important to protect the environment and ensure long term sustainability of the food industry. This includes conservation of water, protecting biodiversity and reducing GHG emissions. Reduction in water usage and other input resources saves costs and reduces environmental damage. It also has a positive impact on local communities and helps to preserve their cultural heritage. The consumer’s demand for environmentally friendly products creates a market incentive for food companies to prioritize conservation of natural resources.
Sustainable agriculture practices help to enhance soil fertility, reduce water usage and protect biodiversity. The efficient usage of energy in food processing helps to reduce emissions. Improving transportation, cold storage facilities helps to minimize food wastage. Sustainable packaging helps to reduce waste and minimize fossil fuel usage.
Conservation of natural resources ensures environmental, social and economic sustainability and helps to meet consumer demands.
Animal agriculture is responsible for 20 to 33 % freshwater consumption in the world
Need for Sustainability Management Software
Data transparency and traceability matters a lot in sustainability management. The clarity in data increases trust and allows better decision making. It fosters accountability which is critical for sustainability reporting. Organizations can track their environmental performance and make improvements where necessary. The use of sustainable procurement practices helps organizations to adhere to sustainability standards.
Traceability solutions in supply chains build trust and transparency in the ecosystem. The real-time capture of data at each stage in the supply chain ensures accountability among the stakeholders and by harnessing the power of blockchain technologies can build integrity into the various sustainable claims. The single source of truth established helps in audit trails and satisfies regulatory compliance.
TraceX’ s blockchain powered traceability systems drives sustainability into the food ecosystem. Farm management solutions enable first mile traceability and post-harvest management enhances supply chain efficiency at reduced costs.
Trace CO2 , the one stop carbon management platform enables the measurement and reporting of GHG emissions along the supply chains thereby helping organizations to reduce their environmental impact.
Data transparency and traceability are essential to safeguard our planet and businesses need to adhere to the best practices and deliver company sustainability goals and find a competitive edge in the global markets.
Sustainability today is increasingly becoming a part of global conversations and we can hope to see innovation and progress in pursuance of a sustainable future.
Are you interested in charting an easy Sustainable journey? Let’s start a conversation and work towards a sustainable future!