Planetary nutrition and its impact on the food and beverage industry

The Planetary Diet has attracted attention not only for its benefits to those who follow it, but also for what it does to the environment.

On the one hand, a healthier diet is associated with a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; At the same time, it is essential to protect the planet through sustainable food systems.

The origin of the planetary diet

At the beginning, sustainable diet defined in 1986 by Gussow and Clancyas “diet options that support life and health within natural system boundaries for the foreseeable future.”

In 2010, FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) and Biodiversity International defined sustainable nutrition as:

Those with a low impact on the environment that contribute to food and nutrition security and a healthy life for current and future generations.

Sustainable nutrition protects and respects biodiversity and ecosystems, is culturally acceptable, accessible, economically just and accessible, nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy, and optimizes natural and human resources.

With these definitions as background, we are currently talking about planetary healthy diet through which we strive to adopt healthy diets from sustainable food systems to protect the planet while improving the health of billions of people around the world.

Progress backed by science

Research carried out in 16 countries whose results correspond to the scientific consensus of the EAT-Lancet Commission on food, planet, health, brought together experts from related disciplines (such as agriculture, public health and environmental sustainability policies).

The results showed that it is essential and a priority to move towards a healthy and, at the same time, sustainable diet model.

The consensus indicates that the planetary nutrition model is a sustainable food proposal whose purpose is to fight against the harmful effects of pollution and climate change:

  • Global warming
  • Extinction of species
  • Among other demonstrated consequences

Planetary healthy nutrition opens a discussion with foods of animal origin

How to achieve a planetary diet?

In order to move to this model, the consensus states, as a general rule, that the consumption of foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes should double. Consumption of foods such as red meat and sugar is also recommended reduce by more than 50%.

We have to ask the food industry will consumers be willing to the planetary diet proposal.

Studies investigating the ecological impact of eating habits, conducted with the aim of getting to know the attitude or opinion about the ecological effects of eating habits or customs, show promising results.

Planetary nutrition brings together two issues that deserve an urgent solution: consumer health and environmental well-being. Photo: Freepik

Figures to support this type of diet

Some of the data that caused the greatest interest in planetary nutrition are:

  • 80% of consumers believe that buying and consuming their food has an impact on the environment.
  • 75% of consumers estimate that adopting healthy eating habits has a lower impact on the environment compared to unhealthy eating habits.
  • Consumers highly value and rate “very important” those companies that provide information and knowledge about healthy and sustainable nutrition. In fact, 80% of consumers admit that knowledge about the impact of food on the environment would be an excellent tool to contribute to its reduction.

In addition to the above, evidence of progress in the dietary patterns of the world population shows a trend towards a worrying imbalance in chronic non-communicable diseases, such as:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Arterial hypertension

All of them are related to nutrition, so they show the need to switch to healthier patterns.

Sustainable and ecological nutrition

Health as the main driver of change

This context of malnutrition positions the food industry as one of the actors with room for action. For example, by researching consumer studies that allow you to find out the predisposition to include dietary changes for environmental reasons.

In this way, existing obstacles to the paradigm shift could be identified and, consequently, strategies for turning the situation around could be devised.

Consumers express the need to be aware of the impact of the foods that make up their daily diet on the environment, which is an opportunity to develop healthy and sustainable options, as well as to communicate them to said consumers who are now looking for this information.

Since consumers have shown environmental concerns related to food choices and practices, what motivates them to make those choices? These are some of the main factors:

  • Environmentally acceptable consumption
  • High motivation towards food waste
  • High motivation to consume food produced in one’s own country
  • Propensity to consume food produced with respect for animal rights

Growing popularity of food that prioritizes environmental protection, as well as the concept of sustainable development represent a trend.

As active decision-makers in the food industry, it is worth considering this and other sustainable food models. Photo: Freepik

Food reformulation, the key to better nutrition

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