The future of food from farm to fork
When it comes to nutrition, what have been some of the most significant trends of the past 5–10 years, in your view?
Food systems have increasingly come under public and scientific scrutiny. Our planet is under pressure from climate change and human exploitation, and we have the added challenge of population growth. Against this backdrop, we have seen sustainable food systems become a key priority for regulators, governments, consumers and corporates. Key trends include the rise of plant-based alternatives to meat, the digitalisation of agriculture, a shift to healthier diets and the rise of ‘free-from’ foods, as well as a growing focus on food waste reduction.
Looking ahead, what do you predict will be the most important trends and themes for the next decade and beyond?
Essentially, we believe that all the trends that have started to pick up in the past decade will accelerate, with the food systems transition at an inflection point today. Greater regulation, changes in consumer behaviour, more innovation, the Covid pandemic and the growing food security crisis are all contributing to this.
What would you say to someone who believes we have too many people on the planet to all be fed properly?
A large number of solutions exist, from farm to fork, to contribute to food security and the objective of feeding a growing population while reducing the disease and mortality burden pertaining to poor nutrition. One example of an exciting innovation is precision farming technologies which enable us to produce more food, with the same, or fewer inputs, including drones with remote sensing – automated farm equipment with artificial intelligence, and IoT devices enabling agronomic data analytics. We can also aim to reduce the one third of food produced that is wasted every year, for example with sensor-based food sorting systems that can help determine when a fruit or vegetable that is about to be wasted can be repurposed or food cultures and enzymes that extend food product shelf life. Finally, we also believe that there is scope to increase our consumption of foods that have a high nutritional content relative to the intensity of their production will help optimise our scarce resources.