Have you ever thought that with every piece of food you throw away, you waste all the energy, water, nutrients, raw materials, pesticides and chemical fertilizers that were needed in its whole production chain, including packaging and logistics?
Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted. Food losses and waste amounts to roughly US$ 680 billion in industrialized countries and US$ 310 billion in developing countries.
Food production requires not only tremendous amounts of scarce fresh water reserves and natural resources but also vast land areas. A great deal of that is needed to produce all the food ending up being food waste every year. As agricultural land areas are not sufficient to feed the growing global population, forests are increasingly transformed into fields and pastures. Deforestation is the result which contributes to the global warming.
However, as everyone needs to eat something we must create a totally new system to produce, deliver and consume food. To make this happen, innovative new ways for producing, processing and delivering food are needed for all areas of the food production chain – from fields through supermarkets and restaurants to your very own plates.
What can be done? A change usually starts from small steps. There are already innovative, exciting examples of new ways to produce food in a more sustainable way and decrease, eliminate or utilize food waste with being good businesses at the same time. A good business is one that is contributing to solving the problem rather than creating it in a way which is also economically viable. Many new solutions and business concepts are utilizing tools based on digital technologies as they open entirely new possibilities to achieve disruptive, systematic change. Great examples include the following:
- FoodLoop (DE) and Foller (FIN) have developed solutions for tracking and managing expiring goods in grocery stores to minimize food waste the smart way.
- A UK startup Design by Sol has invented a bio-reactive expiry label for food that will help dramatically cut food waste by indicating when the food goes bad.
- Wasteless, a US-based startup, wants to use dynamic pricing by utilising the latest Internet of Things (IoT) technology to help grocery stores waste less food.
- ResQ Club and Lunchie (FIN) provide digital marketplaces for surplus food of restaurants to avoid food waste.
- Ultima (FIN) is a restaurant based on principles of sustainability and circular economy. It is experimenting with the most innovative food and farming technologies.
- Technological innovations are enabling a new way of producing food transforming indoor environments into places where fruits and vegetables can be grown without soil, close to the city, with an extremely short supply chain, fully independent of weather fluctuations, while reducing demand on water and chemicals. One of the pioneers of the approach, New Jersey based Bowery, describe it as ‘post-organic’ farming, and momentum is growing behind the idea that a sizeable percentage of some of the fruits and vegetables of the future could be grown using this technique.
- Evergreen and Netled (FIN) develop vertical farming systems utilizing latest technological solutions.
Consumer with their everyday choices will have power to choose whether to be part of the problem or the solution. Therefore, they will vote with their feet for companies that manage to develop economically viable business models based on sustainability principles. You can become an advocate of this change independent of the function you work in by exploring new sustainable ways to operate and do business.