Companies and consumers must change their food production and consumption habits to avoid a global crisis and hunger in future. New technologies and concepts are emerging to reshape the current food industry and make it ethical and resource-efficient.
The contemporary food industry produces more goods than necessary, but many cannot afford to buy these products. This is a crisis of overproduction: tons of unsold goods are wasted and rotted, while millions of people suffer from hunger and epidemics.
Almost 10% of the population
suffers from hunger, and three billion people cannot afford healthy food, while one-third
of all food produced remains unclaimed and wasted. An estimated two billion tons of food is lost due to poor storage and transportation, strict shelf life specifications, overproduction, and marketing policies that encourage people to buy more food than they need.
Thus, the current food production and distribution system consumes too many natural resources, degrades the soil and pollutes air and water, changing the natural environment and climate.
According to the IPBES
report, agriculture alone accounts for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. Unless urgent action is taken, agricultural land could increase by 20% by 2060 and pastures by 25%. The World Economic Forum
report highlights that the food industry affects 72% of species of living things that may be at risk of extinction. To avoid loss and food waste, countries must develop and harness the full power of new technologies.
Regenerative agriculture has room for innovation in its core concept, which means taking steps to reduce or recover losses, including loss of nutrients and greenhouse gases. Soil is the largest carbon storage facility in the planet's terrestrial ecosystems.
The use of pesticides and fertilizers, frequent plowing, mineralization of soil humus leads to the fact that CO2
is released from the soil, getting into the atmosphere. The essence of regenerative agriculture lies in non-destructive methods, which contribute to the restoration of natural soil cycles.
In a scenario where the world's population reaches 9 billion in 2050, the traditional linear economy will no longer be relevant. It is no longer possible to produce, use and throw away without recycling and reuse. Building local closed-loop food systems helps preserve natural resources and decrease pollution.
In the agricultural, food, and packaging industries, it is possible to use recyclable or biodegradable materials that underpin the circular system
of production and consumption. New technologies make composting and anaerobic digestion in agriculture to provide fertilizer
even from plastic.
The correct choice of fertilizers and treatments can increase yields and improve soil conditions. Digitization
includes technical equipment and AI analysis of satellite images, field papers, laboratory soil studies, and seed samples. Hydration and temperature IoT sensors transmit soil status data, and farmers receive reports in messenger and email during the season. The traceability of food storage and supply chains can dramatically reduce costs and waste.
Following the operational recommendations of the IT system, farmers save their efforts, costs, and supplies. Unmanned vehicles associated with the system automatically process crops from pests and add fertilizers. Constant data scanning provides a base for making sustainable decisions and carefully spending natural resources.
Now, the cost of products does not take into account its healthiness or the environmental impact of its production and delivery, including the cost of soil degradation, pollution, and biodiversity loss. Inadequate wages for farmers make food production a volatile and crisis-prone sector. Governments need to raise awareness and introduce policies that appreciate a nutritional diet, a healthful environment, and farmers practicing regenerative agriculture
The coronavirus pandemic has whittled down the growth of the world economy, and even the wealthiest countries in the world have begun to worry about possible hunger. In the United Kingdom, the Trussell Trust
donated a record 2.6 thousand food kits a day during the first six months of the pandemic. In the United States, the number of people suffering from malnutrition increased by 13.2 million, up 35% from 2018, according to Feeding America
, the country's largest anti-hunger organization.
In the future, the situation may worsen for millions of people due to local conflicts and economic crises. The old economic model has ceased to be satisfactory, and the world must move to a form of human-oriented economy that is ethical and environmentally respectful. Companies and authorities need to focus on building a sustainable food system that can withstand future crises and prevent famine.