On display at the Seeds & Chips Global Food Innovation Summit in Milan earlier this month were a broad range of food innovations. From urban farms to sustainable food production systems, to foods made from 100% renewable energy and waste material.
All were different but all had one thing in common.
These innovations all shared the ideals and intentions of the UN Sustainable Development Goals - an umbrella under which food innovation aimed at transforming our food system toward a healthier and more sustainable future can sit. Examples of these goals include moving toward more responsible production and consumption, climate action, good health and wellbeing and better use of land, water and energy.
Along with being inspired with the momentum that is building in this area, throughout the course of the 4 day event, we also heard repeatedly how far behind we are in making an impact to both climate change and to the quality of people's diets.
Food production continues to contribute to a number of unsustainable environmental issues while food consumption habits are now resulting in a rising prevalence of malnutrition co-existing with overweight and obesity.
With the ready availability of cheap, nutrient poor foods, it's not only becoming harder to manage our weight, its becoming harder to get the nutrients we need to live well in the short term and to maintain optimal health in the long term.
When we talk about food and sustainability, equal weighting therefore needs to be given to both environmental and nutritional impact. Solving both of these issues is how food businesses can most effectively prepare for the future and be best positioned to obtain greater returns from investment in innovation.
Getting 'more from less' means not only getting more food using fewer resources, it also means getting more nutrients from less food.
To do this, the following diagram provides a simple strategy for auditing where your products currently sit, and the key strategy to adopt to be future ready. The aim is to move up and to the right.
The key questions are: where do my products currently sit and what can I do to move forward?