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Why sustainability is so key to our future food industry

Author Damien Wilde
Posted On 22nd June 2018

Sustainability is a key term being projected on to the entire catering and food industry and will continue to be as we, as a species, tackle the global climate issues.

If you were to ask experts, we have already gone past the point of no return and that we are simply delaying the inevitable demise of our planet.

But, even if that is the case, until we can blast off into the cosmos we need to figure out how to feed our increasing global population: That is where sustainable farming methods come in.

Alternative protein source pitfalls

We’ve discussed why changes such as increasing insect protein intake and vegetarian diets could be very simple ways to almost instantly decrease our reliance on meat, whilst simultaneously improving our own food production processes.

In an ideal world, we would all adopt a Vegan lifestyle until we have mastered truly efficient growing and animal rearing methods.

But, we know that this isn’t an ‘ideal’ world, so changes need to be made in our most prominent and environmentally problematic farming and cultivation methods.

Meat production is one of the biggest drains on our resources and therefore the natural resources.

Replicating the taste and texture of ‘real’ meat is slowly starting to prove successful despite British and American reluctance to try the meat substitutes.

We’re now seeing an influx of companies adopting technology to create food that simulates beef and chicken but in a plant-based form, with the actual end result improving with each iteration.

Anecdotally this comes at a time when as a global populace we’re choosing to cut down our meat consumption in droves.

Veganism is a growing movement, alternative diets are now becoming more commonplace and the net result is that we as a society are beginning to understand the social, health, financial and environmental costs of consuming large amounts of meat.

This isn’t to say that we have turned a corner, far from it, it’s that we are now all more aware of our impact.

That’s half the battle, but thing like attitudes to things like GM food are changing rapidly.

Genetic modification of crops and the introduction of automated processes brought about by things such as machine learning could render some of our old, inefficient farming methods redundant.

Our ingrained fear of these methods is slowly being chipped away as we allow more technology into our lives in other areas.

The internet and availability of information is also playing a part in this societal change, there are so many factors that we are slowly starting to consider when we choose our food.

Companies are also realising this, Danone even recently acquired a plant-milk company, showing that investment in these areas can reap potential profits for even companies reliant on the dairy industry.

Resource redistribution

At the moment we grow large volumes of grain to feed directly to livestock, the resources used – water, plant feed, fertiliser, man and machine-power – for this process is a massive drain on our farmers, economy and the planet itself.

In reality, we would be much better off utilising this production to feed the human population.

Livestock requires inordinate volumes of food and water to reach maturity, it’s estimated that it takes anywhere in the region of 40,000 to 75,000 litres of water to ‘make’ 500g of beef.

That figure comes from factoring a few key necessary essentials for livestock rearing.

Most of that water usage is in the grain growing process, wouldn’t it make much more sense to find a way to divert all that food onto our very own plates?

Not only would be a logical decision, it would make financial sense as without the same levels of livestock, the demand for grains and feed would be lowered.

Without the intense demand, the price of these grains would in all probability be naturally much lower than that of animal meat products.

Cleaner air, better health, all thanks to Tech

If technological advancements continue and see companies developing meat substitutes that can rival our traditional meaty meals, then we could potentially wipe out a huge proportion of our global greenhouse gas emissions.

This part of the food-supply chain is so integral to many parts of the world, and it’s clear that with some changes there are huge gains to be made for companies that invest in our potential plant-based future food networks.

We’re sure that meat eaters need not be too afraid, we’ll still have access to meat. In all likelihood, as our diets continue to evolve, we will have a much wider and healthier range of non-meat foods to sate our tastebuds.

With no fat, less environmental impact and potentially no difference in taste, the plant food revolution is set to shake up our world food production and therefore the entire catering industry.

There is already a growing number of businesses growing and thriving by putting vegetarian and Vegan food first.

And it’s clear to us that this could be a defining for our entire industry.