Knowledge for better food systems

WRAP report: Food futures – from business as usual to business unusual

This report, Food Futures, by the UK’s waste agency WRAP, looks at a broad range of food sustainability challenges for the future and at possible solutions.

Topics covered include:

  • Climate risks to food chain resilience 
  • Farming for the future
  • Landscape-scale opportunities
  • Alternative feeds and proteins
  • Aquaculture expansion
  • Scaling sustainability standards
  • Skills for future food challenges
  • Conscious food choices
  • Redefining grocery retail models
  • New partnerships & collaborations
  • Food chain data revolution
  • Industry 4.0 in the food system
  • Intelligent supply and demand
  • Active & intelligent packaging
  • Unlocking new value from waste

The report identified current food trends, and provides specific recommendations to both business and policymakers:

Key trend 1: Increasing challenges to food system resilience Recommendation 1: Create supply chains FIT for the future

“To respond to the challenges outlined above, future supply chains will need to be FIT for the future: flexible (F), intelligent (I) and transparent (T).

  • Flexibility will come from a range of attributes that encourage resilience such as diversity and redundancy.
  • Intelligence will come from businesses and policymakers investing more in understanding and managing risks. This will also require interdisciplinary approaches, partnerships, better use of data and a reassessment of the skills and training needs of the UK food workforce.
  • Transparency is needed to help uncover hidden risks that come from complexity and create incentives that drive the right changes in supply chains.”
  • Key trend 2: Explosion of data-enabled technology Recommendation 2: Invest in food chain data capabilities
  • “In order to develop a more resilient food and drink system, businesses will need to invest in and exploit the use of data and technology to better connect their value chains, including their customers. But the explosion in data-enabled technology offers far more potential than this. The Green Data Revolution can support the delivery of a smarter, more flexible, food system which can optimise the way land is used and food is grown, harvested, processed and eaten. It also offers consumers new ways to access food, and engage with food in a way that will challenge the established systems and promote the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies and new business models”
  • Key trend 3: Alignment of health & sustainability agendas - Recommendation 3: Promote innovation and consumer engagement on health & sustainability
  • “By bringing together the health and sustainability agendas society can make the most of recognised synergies between the two and ensure that any trade-offs or tensions can be addressed holistically. The looming ‘protein challenge’ should be the initial focus of this work: animal protein places significant resource pressures on the world and overconsumption is associated with negative health outcomes. The need to increase public engagement will also be crucial to determining the future health of the nation and sustainability of the food system. Consumer interest in health and nutrition is increasing and this trend should be capitalised on to also deliver broader sustainability outcomes, where there is a link between dietary choices and the integrity of the natural environment.”
  • Read more about the report here and view the full report here. You can find further coverage from The Guardian here.
  • Read more about technology, agricultural innovation, protein, meat, eggs and alternatives, insects, aquaculture, agricultural and aquatic systems, sustainable healthy diets.
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