Digesting such modernisations is an aspect the food sector struggles to get to grips with but is in real need of, according to a champion of food innovation.
Lotta Törner, CEO of Skane Food Innovation Network, said new solutions for food production are urgently required along with a change in our eating habits.
“We have to get back to some kind of balance with nature,” said Törner, who is due to speak at this year’s FoodVision in London.
“Food and food production is a big source for this imbalance and not eating isn’t an option.”
“It’s important for us as consumers to understand our food choices and to understand how important this industry is for our future. We have to change it into a smart food system."
Much of Törner's talk will focus on the concept of social innovation that puts people and communities at the centre of the food industry.
Here, she welcomes a return to the concepts of cooperation, communities and healthy cooking in order for individuals to gain a better sense of where their food comes from.
"We do not know where the food comes from, we don’t appreciate the effort of growing a tomato, we are unable to use our senses to smell if the milk is ok," she explained.
"We have lost the respect for food and at the same time for the food industry. I think it will be a race against the clock to retain both."
Global food system overhaul
FoodNavigator recently reported on proposals put forward that were needed as part of an overhaul of the global food system, in order to improve sustainability and reduce waste.
According to the International Resource Panel, a tax on meat and stricter rules on marketing of cheap products that contain 'empty calories' might go a long way in addressing food security and accessibility to healthy food.
The group laid bare the impact global food systems are having on natural resources as they were thought to be responsible for up to 60% of terrestrial biodiversity loss.
These systems also account for around 24% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and have been responsible for the overfishing of 29% of commercial fish populations.
The prospect of feeding a growing population by producing more food on less space in a more sustainable way is simply not an option.
“Already climate changes are affecting what we can grow and where,” she said.
“Today, the part of Sweden where I live has a significant wine production … other parts in Europe loses crops.
“If we don’t do anything more people will go hungry. Controlling food chain will be an important tool of power.”
Törner acknowledged the task of redefining the food chain would be a monumental task, not helped by stakeholders, population parameters, financial considerations and finite resources.
“It’s not going to be one solution,” she explained. “We have to address everything from new ways to fish and farm, reduce food waste and introduce smart packaging.”
“We also have to start working with innovation up stream at a primary production level, having worked downstream for years. Shorter value chains and all parts must cooperate in a much better way.
“We also need more multidisciplinary research. And as consumers we have to be prepared to pay more for good food and be very suspicious if food is cheap.”
With the prospect of chicken meat and dairy consumption expected to increase by 20% over the next 10 years, it may be a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’ innovation becomes a much more significant part of business strategy.
Innovation is still considered a high-risk approach, with significant upfront investment costs and no guarantee of an end product that the consumer will embrace.
“Food production is both the problem and the solution,” Törner concluded. “Innovate like in no other business and start to integrate the whole value chain and realise personal responsibilities.
“It’s an easy recipe isn’t it?”
Interested in learning more about this issue? Then join other food and drink industry leaders at Food Vision from 1 – 3 March 2017 in London.
Organised by William Reed, the publisher of FoodNavigator, this industry event brings together CEOs, academics and top scientists for three days of interactive conferences and networking sessions on how to drive sustainable growth and profitability in global nutrition, food and beverage markets.