Scientists have been arguing for a worldwide transition to a healthy and sustainable food system for some time. For many people, the start of the year is the time to radically start doing things differently: what trends stimulate a sustainable food system?
The trend of ‘less or more’ is continuing in 2019. Consumers are eating less and less meat and more and more vegetable and meat substitutes. Products with less salt, E-numbers and sugars are winning over the unhealthy alternatives. In addition, the packaging of these products is also a hot topic.
Virtually the whole world is aware of the fact that the use of plastic and the environmental pollution due to the use of plastic must be scaled back. The fight against the ‘plastic soup’ is developing at great speed. The words ‘plastic’, and ‘blockchain’ are already vying for the title of most spoken word in 2019. Although workshops, sessions and drop-in evenings are still being organized to promote more understanding of the blockchain concept, this is not the case for plastic. A number of different promotions were set up in 2018. An example of this is the EU’s initiative to ban ‘single-use plastics’. Many other countries are following the approach in Bangladesh to make plastic bags disappear from the street scene. The law forces the manufacturer to think of alternatives to plastic. Sustainable alternatives for plastics are popping up like mushrooms and causing a stir in the world of production, packaging and retail. The young Dutchman Boyan Slat’s project does not directly lead to less plastic, but it is too nice a project not to mention. He is planning to clean up the plastic soup in the Pacific Ocean, with his project Ocean Cleanup. His actions have put the worldwide plastic problem more prominently on the map.
The second trend – which fits in with sustainability, just like ‘less plastic’ – is striving for less waste. In an ideal world, waste is completely banned and circularity – the use of by-pass and residual flows to manufacture new products – is central. In the battle against food waste, I came across two interesting developments, which I will be following closely. First of all, the initiative by the start-up Wasteless. This initiative wants to make products cheaper as they approach their expiry date. The second initiative, the app Too Good To Go, is conquering an increasingly large part of the Netherlands. This handy app ensures that you can contribute to no food wasting. Food that would otherwise be thrown out at the end of the day at restaurants and retailers is offered via the app in a so-called Magic Box.
It is generally known that sugar is bad for our health. Products with less sugar are greatly appreciated as long as the taste and texture of the food remain the same. There are great initiatives that are working on replacing and reducing sugar in the food we eat every day. It will be interesting to see what the impact will be on production chains that develop the replacement substances. You can read more about this topic on the Wageningen University & Research website here.
These three developments are also among my personal goals. When I shop for groceries, I try to take into account waste, healthier food and sustainable packaging. I am noticing that more and more people and organizations in my (business) network are asking themselves: how can I contribute to a sustainable food system?
Read my blog about the three main tech trends in the food industry here. Don’t hesitate to contact me to further discuss the developments in this sector!