A new report from WRAP, to be launched at its annual conference today, outlines the risks to the UK food system over the next decade if we don’t embrace a “business unusual” approach to the way we manufacture, sell and consume food, ultimately leading to a reduction in what it terms “farm-to-fork food waste”.
The ground breaking “Food Futures” report assesses 15 topics in the UK food system and outlines recommendations for actions by industry and government.
It says that the increasing global demand for food and the pressure on the environment of meeting that demand, using traditional methods and ingredients, is unlikely to be sustainable; while some of the risks and opportunities identified and which affect the whole industry include climate risks to food resilience and deep environmental and societal challenges like reducing food waste or tackling diet-related ill health.
It explains that three key trends that will shape the food system and reframe these issues; increasing challenges to food system resilience; an explosion in data-enabled technology and the alignment of public health and environmental sustainability agendas.
The next 10 years could see changes in farming such as a growing appreciation of the benefits of adopting precision agriculture and other data-enabled technologies. Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) will use water, energy and fertilisers only where it is needed, optimising yield, production efficiencies and nutritional outcomes, reducing machinery and input costs by up to 75%.
Technology AND Lifestyle
Lifestyles choices will also have a role to play, according to WRAP, and consumers will help set the pace of change as they seek to have a healthier and sustainable diet. The future will see individuals driving the way in which their food is delivered not just to their door but designed to meet their precise nutritional and taste requirements, the report claims.
“By capitalising on the three trends and embedding the recommendations from the Food Futures report, the industry can take a business unusual approach to the challenges and become more flexible, intelligent and transparent – FIT – to meet the 21st century demands. The biggest of which, is to feed the growing population which is why one of the recommendations in the report is to drive down farm-to-fork food waste,” the report says.
“One third of all food grown globally goes to waste, equating to one-in-four calories being lost. Applying FIT principles will tackle food waste along the value chain,” it states.
WRAP’s Courtauld Commitment 2025 will play a leading role in bringing together the whole food system. Dr Liz Goodwin OBE, CEO at WRAP said: “In the next 10 years we will be faced with challenges around feeding a growing population and nutritional security. Our ‘Food Futures’ report highlights how governments, businesses and we, as consumers, can turn these challenges into opportunities. We need to be 21st Century ‘FIT’ to meet this challenge. By embracing the growth in data enabled technology and aligning healthy and environmentally sustainable diets we can nourish both the individual and the planet.”