Food sustainability has never been as important and under as much scrutiny as it is today. The global food system is under increasing pressure from the concerns over climate change, feeding a growing population and the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting the need for a resilient and sustainable food system.
Food production is responsible for one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, with the meat and dairy industry responsible for approximately 14.5% alone and food packaging accounting for a further 5%. There is widespread urgency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions emanating from the food industry and the need to find interventions to make that a reality. Exploring how to run an eco-friendly commercial kitchen is at the forefront of the minds of many food service businesses.
So what are the freshest sustainable food business trends in the food and beverage industry? Let’s take a look…
Meat Alternatives and Alternative Proteins
Enthusiasm for vegan or vegetarian foods continues to grow. It is not just vegetarians who rely on plant-based foods, but many consumers are preferring to reduce their meat consumption and because of this, the market for meat alternatives has exploded in the last 5 years, with many plant-based proteins now on offer.
Alternative proteins are more sustainable food protein sources than conventional meat/fish/cheese/eggs. They not only provide solutions to global climate change concerns but also open up opportunities for food businesses to develop new protein-based products to meet the increasing global protein market trend.
The Rise of Veganic Farming
To deal with the food security crisis, which has been brought on by climate change – our agricultural systems need to be reformed and cruelty-free. Cue veganic farming, (also known as plant-based farming, vegan organic farming or stock-free farming); a socially responsible agricultural approach to growing plant foods that is based on a respect for animals as well as the environment and human health.
Food Waste and Green Tech
Food waste is a big issue in 2021 that is being tackled with the help of technology. So far this year there have been more new apps that connect restaurants and retailers to the local community for free meals or generous discounts. We also see technologies against zero food waste as one of the megatrends in 2021.
Innovations in Agri-Tech
2021 is a crucial time for innovations in agri-tech to improve the resilience and sustainability of our food system. These innovations aim to increase both the quality and quantity of crops through precision farming – where tech such as drones and AI automate the farming process to promote efficient use of resources like water and fertilisers.
And in space-limited urban areas, indoor and vertical farming use nutrient-rich solutions rather than soil, helping cities to build a more self-sufficient food supply.
Sustainability throughout the Supply Chain
Consumers’ desires are changing, with many actively looking for brands that promote sustainability throughout the supply chain. According to research, 60% of consumers buy products and services from companies that are socially and/or environmentally responsible.
Food businesses can reassure consumers by managing their supply chain sustainably. Many brands are now adopting better sourcing strategies throughout their supply chains that will give them transparency and traceability. More companies are focusing on the living conditions and economic viability of smallholders farmers when sourcing responsible ingredients.
One food ingredient that has come under the spotlight is the sourcing of palm oil. The ingredient is a subject of discussion – due to concerns about deforestation, which endangers animals such as orangutans, leading to the abuse of human rights and child labour.
Large consumer goods companies have already taken radical steps in demonstrating palm oil supply transparency that should encourage widespread change.
Hyper Regional Cuisine and Relocalisation of Food
The present global food economy is unsustainable, but it has inspired some new ways of thinking that affect the way we produce, distribute, buy, eat and dispose of food.
Hyperlocal is a dish that has a majority or all of its ingredients grown, raised or otherwise cultivated by the food business itself. Hyper regional cuisine dishes offer the enjoyment of a country, from a specific region or even micro-region with the ingredients being processed more sustainably.
Relocalisation of food brings food production back closer to cities and has huge potential to improve food security, support local economies and help build a more sustainable food system. The pandemic encouraged us to look closer to home for our food, the weekly food shop and home cooking became highlights of lockdown.
Consumers are choosing seasonal or locally grown fruits and vegetables on the supermarket shelves, or buying from independent local and independent suppliers, with many of us taking an interest in the sustainability and carbon footprint of our food. The importance of a more self-sufficient local food supply is also reinforced by Brexit-related changes to UK food supply.
Progress on tackling single-use plastic packaging was stalled by hygiene concerns during the pandemic, however, the issue still has strong momentum. In the UK, packaging comprises a shocking two-thirds of plastic waste sent to landfill each year – but the government have committed to becoming a world leader in sustainable packaging, with an investment of £60 million in 2018.
There are advances in compostable, biodegradable, recyclable and recycled packaging – meaning less CO2 used in production, less waste going to landfill, and no toxic chemicals produced as it decomposes. Bio-plastics, made from biological sources and food by-products, also promise to tackle food waste, single-use plastic and drive us towards a circular economy.
Food suppliers have been encouraged by consumer demand to include carbon emissions on their food labels. Shoppers have come to expect labelling, using it to influence purchasing decisions and the introduction of carbon labelling has made a big impact, with many interested in the product’s carbon footprint, over the calorie quantity! Research has shown that 50% of consumers have agreed that the carbon emissions of a product are a factor in their purchasing decision.
At Dephna, we offer complete flexibility and 24-hour access to all of our commercial and dark kitchens. If you’re interested in an environmentally-friendly commercial kitchen rental, cold storage rooms or catering kitchens with a focus on food safety, enquire and book a visit.