Is it organic? Or vegan? No, I thought it is GMO- free, right? Many labels many questions. But what can we solve our current food crisis with these approaches? Many now raise their eyebrows and may think: what kind of food crisis?
Yes, I am talking about a current food crisis. And, no, I am not saying we have a shortage of food in the developed parts in this world. It is the opposite. We have too much of it and we are doing bad. Really bad. We waste a lot of it, we consume too much of it and eat the wrong ones. Not enough, we need more. So much more, that our enviroments starts to cough.
But where are the labels that solve users problems?
Coming back to the question above, if these labels can solve our food crisis? I don`t think so. Every label is covering a certain problem, focusing on sustainable trade, social standards or agriculture, trying to improve the negative impact of consumerism. But do these labels solve users`s problems? Many users are having problems with their weight control. Obesity and diabetes are widespread, causing many problems in people’s life. The problems of the extensive carb intake remain unchanged. Our current nutrition is not balanced and something has to change.
This imbalance leads to the next problem. Why should we farm the wrong ingredients? Why do we farm so much sugar and other carbs if we know that it does not add any value to humans wellbeing and the planet? Some are even saying, we just need to increase the output to meet the further demand. But have you ever considered that we may be farm not the right ingredients?
Another problem is the huge packaging waste and I am not talking about plastic bottles only. No, you can indeed see in every supermarket, how often things are overpacked. The food manufacturers are often not aware that if they reduce, they also can save money. As Michael Porter once said: competitiveness and sustainability is not contradicting itself. Packaging engineers play a major role here.
The solutions lie not in ideology, but in the way how the food industry develops their recipes and processes. They are the ones that preserve the raw ingredients, design, pack and ship them to the supermarkets. They are the ones that can change the way we eat. They can design healthy food for the users, source sustainable ingredients and reduce packaging where possible. This industry spends only few percentage for R&D, but it should be more considering what challenges lay ahead.
Sustainability with its three pillars such as ecology, economy and ethics has to be applied as well as for the consumers. Not just for the suppliers’ side. But this seems to be currently more wishful thinking. Many food companies can hardly innovate in their core business and now, we are demanding to innovate even harder, no easy task.
Mirko Stanic is an expert in food innovation and has written a book about it. Download it on Amazon