If there has been one ‘winner’ from the coronavirus crisis, many would point to the environment. A shutdown in our daily lives, including a massive drop in air travel, has resulted in a tangible improvement to air quality and reduction in carbon emissions. Consumer awareness of where food comes from – and the fragility of our food system – has seen in an outpouring of support for local production. Echoes of the disruption wrought by COVID-19 can be seen in the looming climate crisis, making climate-smart food production high on the agenda for food makers, retailers and shoppers alike.
But the COVID-19 pandemic also highlights the complex nature of our relationship with food and the environment. Plastics, for instance, were the villain of the piece in the months leading up to the outbreak. Has our approach shifted as we become more concerned about food safety and waste? Will this lead to an uptick in efforts to develop new alternative plastics or recycling infrastructures? And the million dollar question remains: Are consumers willing to pay more for sustainably produced foods?