In advance of taking to the stage at Future Food-Tech San Francisco on March 21-22, four industry trailblazers reveal their strategies to ensure food and nutritional security for all. Hear their plans, from bolstering resilience throughout the supply chain to petitioning governing bodies to shape policies that improve access to healthy and sustainable foods.
Improving Resiliency Across the Supply Chain
In light of climate change and market volatility, how are companies working to proof their supply chain?
Abigail Buckwalter, CEO, US, NESTLÉ HEALTH SCIENCE illustrates the company’s dedication to meeting the demands of the market across its entire portfolio: “We are consolidating our supply chain to be more efficient and eco-friendly, continuously exploring opportunities to improve our production capacity. We embrace advanced technologies such as predictive analytics to gain real-time visibility into our supply chain. By adopting a holistic strategy, we aim to navigate the complexities of an evolving business landscape, ensuring sustained productivity and adaptability.”
Barry Didato, President, RA FOODS reflects on the recent pandemic and lessons to be learned: “Amidst the complexity of global commerce, as well as the supply chain disruptions that were brought into light during covid, other key revelations became visible. For example: The world lives on a 90-day food cycle. That currently necessitates a globalized food system. Another fact is that the average grocery retailer only has 3 days of food on supply, so logistics and supply chain are supremely important to keeping populations fed. Improving resiliency is often more about protecting bottom line profitability and operations than solutions for population safety and health. Little has been learned from the supply shocks of covid.”
Gary Schuler, Founder and President, GTF TECHNOLOGIES furthers this, telling that these issues are forcing companies to ask questions about their existing processes and how efficient and resilient they really are: “For example, the food industry has typically tolerated up to 60% of the raw material being wasted in food production. Now (because of climate change and market volatility) they’re being forced to analyse more sustainable disposition options. Historically, landfilling and cattle feed/animal feed has been an easy outlet for excess food materials (waste, side-streams, trimmings), but those aren’t the most climate friendly options. As the industry continues to innovate and work together, I’m excited to see companies create new solutions they may have never thought possible.”
Using Collaboration To Improve Access and Affordability of Food
At a time when many around the world are struggling to make ends meet, how can innovators come together to create real change?
Gary Schuler, GTF TECHNOLOGIES names collaboration as the biggest challenge in the industry: “Historically, the focus has been on food production efficiencies and dealing with various governmental regulations, which tends to put food and nutritional security on the back burner. Another challenge is having a clear and consistent understanding of what “nutritional security” actually means. Are we all in agreement of the problem? Are we all collectively narrowing in on possible solutions? How can food industry players work to meet this goal if everyone isn’t aware or in agreement of what the problem is?”
He goes on to stress the importance of collaboration in driving down costs: “Some of the root causes of inflation and supply have affected food costs and accessibility, driving up food costs by 30% or more. Collaboration can help take costs out of the supply chain, such as reducing transportation costs and improving raw material utility. Collaboration to provide a better infrastructure between food providers with excess and those who need access to healthy food. But the key here is food stabilization to prevent decay, so collaboration with technology companies to accomplish this is also needed.”
Barry Didato, RA FOODS calls for collaboration between the government and education system to save money and resource further down the line: “If all calories were the same, it would not matter what you ate. But they are not. Food carries information, key nutrients, molecules, instructions, and code that programs your biology with every bite for better or worse. Government and schools should help children understand that. Access and affordability of real food, nutritious food saves money. As an example, consider the $115,000 annual cost burden for every type 2 diabetic. Considering this and that nearly one-in four Americans will have this preventable disease, collaboration is a win-win for all. 70 percent of us today will die from chronic disease and 86% of all healthcare cost goes to treat what is overwhelmingly avoidable. The average American currently lives the last 10-15 years of their life in a compromised state due to a completely preventable disease due to the lack of functional foods, a wellness framework and support system to help them.”
Abigail Buckwalter, NESTLÉ HEALTH SCIENCE firmly believes in the transformative power of community to drive positive change: “That’s why the Nestlé Health Science Foundation, our charitable arm, has raised over $40 million to support vital nutrition-focused and health and wellness initiatives.
Through the foundation, we are proud to collaborate with impactful businesses and non-profit organizations, including Feeding America, Disability:IN, America’s Grow-a-Row, and United Way. At the local level, we recently worked with Pronto of Long Island, a community outreach center, to support their Farm to Table Nutrition and Health Outreach Program. This program offers a diverse range of enriching activities, including gardening, healthy cooking projects, health awareness discussions, and fitness instruction.
Together, Nestlé Health Science and our charitable foundation are dedicated to empowering the nutrition, health and wellness of communities nationwide.“
Innovations for Food and Nutritional Security
How are food industry players using innovations and technologies to provide sustainably sourced alternatives?
Barry Didato, RA FOODS highlights that there is so much more the industry can collectively do: “We’re not doing enough, but scalable solutions do exist. We are currently living very far out of sync with our evolutionary biology. Consider this: Over human history, humankind traditionally thrived on approximately 30,000 edible plant species of which 7,000 have been cultivated for food. Today only 170 are grown at scale and 30 of them provide most of our calories. And today, only 3 crops provide more than 40 percent of our calories: rice, wheat and corn. That is not healthy and is a recipe for disaster. However, powerful solutions exist and people can stop putting limits on themselves: Example: Adding broccoli sprouts to any dish or beverage has been proven efficacious against nearly 50 percent of known cancers and other afflictions. Innovations have now made these plants safe, packed with powerful compounds, and available for nearly everyone in the US.”
Gary Schuler details GTF TECHNOLOGIES’ innovative solution: “Funny you should ask…our [GTF’s] RENU™ System provides a more efficient way to dry foods than traditional technology, and a way for food producers and processors to create revenue from their side streams by producing valuable powders that can be used in a variety of applications. So, they not only reduce their waste, but actually make money from it. RENU simultaneously dries and mills in seconds, and is 100% electric, so it is energy efficient. By reducing operating costs and increasing revenue, producers can realize full payback on a RENU System in as little as four months. And the system is designed with a modular approach and compact footprint, allowing it to be installed on-site directly at the producer’s facility. This allows for immediate stabilization of raw materials, prevents decay, and captures nutrients at their highest values while retaining more of them with our ultra-fast processing speed. Powders our system produces have up to 90% less weight and volume than fresh, so transportation and storage costs and emissions are slashed as well.”
The issue of affordability comes into play, with nutrition often considered a luxury.
Todd Rands, President & CEO, ELO LIFE SYSTEMS addresses the issue: “We’re witnessing a revolution in food-tech that’s driving new categories of healthier and more sustainable foods. Unfortunately, many are luxuries in most of the world, and fail to provide affordable and accessible nutrition where it’s needed most. The next wave of innovation, from AI to molecular farming, will create healthier, more sustainable foods that are both affordable and accessible for all consumers.”
Barry Didato, RA FOODS looks to The Future of Food for inspiration: “The Future of Food highlights some of the most exciting, successful and impactful functional food innovations of tomorrow. Considering that there is no other activity that people do everyday that has more power to change their biology and the biology of the planet than what you eat, this is an enormously exciting area for investment. If you eat, you’re involved in agriculture. And the future of agriculture is to be woven into the urban fabric of nearly all communities. To embrace that, consumers simply need to be willing to eat better tasting more nutritious food that costs less. That’s the beauty of the new agriculture that complements traditional agriculture as a continued “backbone” of our food system.”
Policy & Regulation
What progress do we need to see in terms of policy and regulation to be able to provide nutritious and sustainable foods?
Barry Didato, RA FOODS emphasizes the importance of eating the right foods to prevent illness, calling for governments to take greater responsibility: “It’s often said that food is the most widely abused drug, and often the most widely ignored medicine. For the first time, the average lifespan and healthspan of Americans is actually declining due to lack of quality nutrition and the ubiquitous availability of highly processed foods that comprise the majority of what people consume. From a health perspective, if you don’t recognize an ingredient, your body won’t either. Policies that address this and guide industry and consumers to the perimeter of the grocery store and healthier consumption patterns is key. Eight processed food conglomerates presently control over 90 percent of what is available for consumers to purchase. This obstacle is often an unrecognized opportunity for innovation and change.”
Gary Schuler, GTF TECHNOLOGIES looks to the other side of the argument, with Governmental regulations and policies sometimes having the opposite effect intended if they drive up costs to the manufacturer: “Is there a way that governmental policies and regulations can be drafted in a way that provides incentives for companies to be more sustainable and profitable and create new revenue streams? Are there solutions that can create value with the result being a more sustainable alternative and a more nutritious product? For example, use the pulp and peel from apples squeezed for juice to make a nutrient dense ingredient for other foods… providing circularity in the food system.”
Meet the speakers and join the discussion at Future Food-Tech San Francisco on March 21-22, where over 1,700 food-tech leaders, from CPG brands, retailers, ingredient providers, investors and start-ups will gather for two days of high impact networking and knowledge-exchange to accelerate technologies and partnerships for the future of food.
With the Early Bird ticket rate set to expire on Thursday, January 25, see who is already confirmed to join us and reserve your place.