A healthier diet is needed for the planet and consumers

5th November 2015

A new WRAP report outlines risks to the UK food system over the next ten years if we don’t embrace a business unusual approach to the way we manufacture, sell and consume food.

The ground breaking ‘Food Futures’ report, which will be launched at WRAP’s annual conference today, assesses 15 topics in the UK food system from farm to fork and outlines recommendations for actions by industry and government.

Increasing global demand for food and the pressure on the environment of meeting that demand, using traditional methods and ingredients, is unlikely to be sustainable. Ensuring the UK has a diversified, sustainable supply of protein is one of the defining challenges of the 21st century. Two topics discussed in the report: new commercial models for sustainable aquaculture and alternative feeds and proteins offer significant potential to overcome this challenge.

Some of the risks and opportunities identified in the report that affect the whole industry, are external including climate risks to food resilience and deep environmental and societal challenges like reducing food waste or tackling diet-related ill health. Whilst for the food chain the ability to realise future opportunities will depend on building skills to meet future food challenges, new supply chain collaborations and how quickly the benefits of new digital technology opportunities can be realised.

Three key trends that will shape the food system and reframe these issues; increasing challenges to food system resilience; an explosion in data-enabled technology and the alignment of public health and environmental sustainability agendas.

The next ten years could see changes in farming such as a growing appreciation of the benefits of adopting precision agriculture and other data-enabled technologies. Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) will use water, energy and fertilisers only where it is needed, optimising yield, production efficiencies and nutritional outcomes, reducing machinery and input costs by up to 75%.

For the supply chain technology will be key. Businesses could use a suite of technologies and practices for intelligent temperature control during manufacture and transportation, minimising carbon impact while improving quality, freshness and product life. And industry, and increasingly consumers, will have accurate data on where their ingredients and food is from and how to get the most from it.

Not all solutions are technology-based, making lifestyles choices has a role to play. Consumers will help set the pace of change as they seek to have a healthier and sustainable diet. The future will see individuals driving the way in which their food is delivered not just to their door but designed to meet their precise nutritional and taste requirements. We might even see the introduction of ‘food for the ages’ - designed specifically to meet the needs of different age groups, from growing teenagers to older people.

By capitalising on the three trends and embedding the recommendations from the ‘Food Futures’ report, the industry can take a business unusual approach to the challenges and become more flexible, intelligent and transparent, ‘FIT’, to meet the 21st century demands. The biggest of which, is to feed the growing population which is why one of the recommendations in the report is to drive down farm-to-fork food waste.  

One third of all food grown globally goes to waste– that’s one-in-four calories lost. Applying FIT principles will tackle food waste along the value chain.

WRAP’s Courtauld Commitment 2025 will play a leading role in bringing together the whole food system, helping to safeguard the UK’s food supply and respond to consumer’s changing needs over the next decade.

Dr Liz Goodwin OBE, CEO at WRAP said: “In the next ten years we will be faced with challenges around feeding a growing population and nutritional security. Our ‘Food Futures’ report highlights how governments, businesses and we, as consumers, can turn these challenges into opportunities. We need to be 21st Century ‘FIT’ to meet this challenge. By embracing the growth in data enabled technology and aligning healthy and environmentally sustainable diets we can nourish both the individual and the planet.”

Notes to editors:

1. “Food Futures: from business as usual to business unusual” is available at www.wrap.org.uk/foodfutures 

2. WRAP has produced a short animated video for Food Futures outlining the major issues facing the food supply chain over the next 10 years https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPUjBZppC38 

3. Join the Food Futures conversation @WRAP_UK #DoBusinessUnusual

4. Amounts of food waste arising in the UK by sector total 15 Million tonnes: Household 7Mt (4.2Mt of which is avoidable); Manufacturing 3.9Mt; Retail & Wholesale 0.2Mt; Hospitality & Food Service 0.9Mt; food waste in litter 0.1Mt; and pre-farm gate 3Mt.

5. WRAP’s vision is a world where resources are used sustainably. It works in partnership with governments, businesses, trade bodies, local authorities, communities and individuals looking for practical advice to improve resource efficiency that delivers both economic and environmental benefits. www.wrap.org.uk @WRAP_UK

6. Our mission is to accelerate the move to a sustainable resource-efficient economy through: 

a. re-inventing how we design, produce and sell products,

b. re-thinking how we use and consume products, and

c. re-defining what is possible through re-use and recycling.

7. First established in 2000, WRAP is a registered charity.  WRAP works with UK governments and other funders to help deliver their policies on waste prevention and resource efficiency.  WRAP is a registered Charity No 1159512 and registered as a Company limited by guarantee in England & Wales No 4125764. Registered office at Second Floor, Blenheim Court, 19 George Street, Banbury, Oxon, OX16 5BH.

Contact

Shona O'Donovan

PR Manager
01295 819690

Ian Palmer

PR Officer, WRAP
01295 819 677