In 2020, during In the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic, concerns around the food supply ran high. This caused big changes in the way some food is produced: there was an increase in the use of regenerative agriculture principles: methods of growing food that also support nature, for example by keeping soils healthy and stable, improving the water and air quality, and improve local biodiversity and an expansion of food production in and near cities, leading to less waste.
In 2021, PepsiCo, Danone, Nestle and Unilever—large multinational fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies—announced they were adopting regenerative farming practices on millions of acres of farmland. This has been complemented by the growth of urban agriculture, with the Infarm vertical farming business recently opened on Europe’s largest urban farm, with an area of 10,000 square meters. These are significant steps towards a resilient food system that is better for people and nature.
Today we know that building food systems resilient to shocks like the pandemic is no longer enough. In 2023, we will redesign food so that it also helps us solve pressing global challenges, including climate change Y biodiversity loss.
For that to be possible, the entire system must be regenerative by design. This means that instead of manipulating nature to produce food, food must be designed for nature to thrive. In 2023, FMCGs, retailers and innovators will take on this role and work with farmers to start creating a circular economy for food.
They will begin to choose ingredients that are not only regeneratively produced, but also low-impact, diverse, and recycled. For example, instead of making breakfast cereals using only wheat grown using conventional methods, the same product can be made with a mix of wheat and peas grown using regenerative agriculture methods. According to a recent study, the manufacture of cheese, cereal and potato products with this approach could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the food industry by 70% and reduce its impact on biodiversity loss by 50% in Europe. This is highly significant given that the current food system is the main driver of biodiversity loss globally and is responsible for a third of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.
We are already seeing seeds of change that will grow in 2023. Brazilian coffee producer Guima Café, supported by Nespresso and reNature, is becoming a regenerative coffee farm, producing more types of ingredients from the same land and diversifying its offer. Products that are made with recycled ingredients are appearing on supermarket shelves, including Renewal Mill’s Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix and Seven Bro7hers’ Sling It Out Stout, made with recycled Kellogg’s Coco Pops. British food company Hodmedod is looking into lesser-known but lower-impact foods like broad beans and black badger peas.
Policymakers are also taking action. For example, in the UK, new government schemes reward farmers and land managers for services such as ensuring that clean and plentiful water is available for plants and wildlife, allowing them to thrive and contributing to the reduction and adaptation to climate change. Pilots are already running and by 2023 more land managers in the UK will take part.
This is just the beginning. In 2023, we will see the launch of an innovation challenge, backed by the People’s Postcode Lottery, targeting FMCG, retailers, and food innovators to bring more iconic food products made with low-impact, diverse, recycled, and regeneratively produced ingredients to market. . The development of these products will show the potential of circular design for food. 2023 will usher in the reshaping of complete food portfolios, designed for nature to thrive.