Innovations in the food industry with the purpose of sustainable improvement

In the future, food will be based on specific metabolic needs of each population, of each individual, due to the identification of bioactive compounds capable of enabling the development of foods that, in addition to nourishing and providing the necessary energy, will be able to meet the goals of functional food.

  • Food is essential for human beings. However, this requires knowledge and awareness.

From the analysis of food from the perspective of culture and accessibility, we began to design a a map of the places where this revolution is unfolding and actively study its dynamics.

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We have identified some disruptive factors that are changing the criteria for food innovation

First of all, there is a Changing consumer values towards personalization, transparency and authenticity. Their trust has moved away from big, well-known brands towards small brands and social responsibility.

This change in consumer values ​​is strictly related to factors drivers of sustainability and health.

Sustainability is seen in the fact that people are increasingly concerned about human impact on the climate, environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity. Health is reflected in increasing demand for fresh and unprocessed food.

The last driving factor we identified is digitization. We live in a time when technologies are comprehensively transforming various business activities and reshaping growth, productivity and overall performance and distribution, as a result of the rapid evolution of direct-to-consumer channels.

Innovation as a means towards a sustainable future of the food industry

Food systems, from local to global or from farm to table, face a complex set of challenges.

  • By unanimous consensus of the United Nations in September 2015, the framework of 17 goals aimed at dealing with the most urgent social, economic and environmental challenges in the coming years, until 2030.

As is known around the world, it is clear that global targets aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions cannot be met without profound changes in agriculture and supply chains. At the same time, these systems must adapt to changing and uncertain climate conditions.

At the national and international level, agriculture and other hubs of the food chain, such as logistics, packaging, dietary habits, among others, They play a vital role in achieving food safety. promotion of economic growth, poverty reduction and sustainability of ecological functions and services.

In reality, food and agriculture permeate every single Sustainable Development Goal defined by the United Nations, with an emphasis on the growing global concern for the sustainability of food systems, which is often the subject of strong controversy in discussions of the topics.

The global food industry plays a decisive role in the realization of these ambitions to be a source of wealth, a driver of economic growth and employment, and a driver of innovation.

Whenever we talk about sustainable development goals, we talk about food and agriculture, as the following figures show.

We have a long way to go to build a more sustainable food-based world. The Future Food Institute promotes a purpose-driven model, whose messages are conveyed through real-life examples and lives.

It manages to encourage virtuous behavior based on three main pillars: people, based on the concept of a hyper-connected human community for the overall well-being of humanity; the planet, which occupies the center of the model, also to assess environmental deficiencies and review resources attributed to environmental protection and prosperity, through a regenerative power of purpose that takes into account multiple indicators of well-being.

Areas of change and innovation in the industry

In the food industry, innovation is one of the keys and the Future Food Institute designed a map of six areas that it assigned the character of the main drivers of this change:

  1. ENVIRONMENT: innovative food production with climate-sensitive models.
  2. PRODUCTION: discovering new models driven by a “circular” mentality and intelligent use of packaging, new technologies and services for domestic and industrial food transformation that create efficiency.
  3. ACCESS: choosing the best solutions against malnutrition and creating new tools to guarantee food security.
  4. DIET: experimenting with healthy and nutritious food, preserving our culture and improving the food experience, while strengthening biodiversity.
  5. LIFESTYLE NUTRITION: discovering new spaces and models of sustainable consumption.
  6. AWARENESS: development of tools for generating ideas from data and artificial intelligence; investing in food education; promoting digital platforms as the best way to spread knowledge and awareness.

We live in a time when the world population is growing rapidly: it will reach 8.5 billion inhabitants by 2030 and 10 billion by 2050 (FAO, 2017).

Much of this population increase will occur in developing countries (FAO, 2009). By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities (UN DESA, 2018), in order to feed this larger, more urban population with greater purchasing power, Food production must increase by a percentage close to 50%compared to that of 2013 (FAO; 2017).

This means that the area of ​​influence on which the industry must focus has two sides: side A, which refers to the creation of an increasingly responsible demand, which leans towards food that is sustainable, “good for us and the planet” (change in consumer values, sustainability, health) and side B, related to the promotion of the regeneration process (regeneration = physical and spiritual renewal) in the food industry, which leads companies to propose innovative offers, more sustainable and more aligned with the fulfillment of the sustainable development goals defined by the United Nations (digitalization, distribution, sustainability, health).

The author, Sara Roversi, founder of the Future Food Institute, participated in Food Tech Mexico 2019 with the conference “The 5 drivers that are transforming innovation”. This conference explained why through personalization, transparency and authenticity consumers change their trust in multinationals, to listen more to brands and small producers, as well as those who are socially responsible.

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