Are startups capable of shaking up the food industry?
1.3 billion tonnes of food are thrown away each year, which represents a third of global production. 270,000 tonnes of food are wasted during the Christmas season alone in the UK. The Covid-19 crisis has proven that all of our food systems are in serious need of a shake up.
The list goes on. By 2050, the World Bank predicts that there will be 9.7 billion people on Earth to feed. This will require a 70% increase in agricultural production. But we must also take into account global warming, with 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions coming from our food systems. Collaboration between companies and startups is not a new phenomenon, even if it is not easy and natural.
However, the urgent need to switch to a low-carbon economy to fight climate change is prompting companies and startups to join forces. While technology alone cannot solve the problem of food waste and unsustainable agricultural or agrifood practices, it does have an important role to play. It has been several years since companies have improved their performance - especially by setting up specific programs, commercial contracts, partnerships, acquisitions, etc. to learn from these young shoots. These will be vectors of change, offering companies a competitive advantage to adapt and be at the forefront of the world of tomorrow.
For example, the French cooperative group InVivo launched InVivo Food & Tech and InViVo Quest in 2017. The goal? Identify pioneering startups in this sector and build an international innovation ecosystem to support the transformation of the agri / food industry. Since 2016, Walmart has worked with IBM to improve the transparency of its supply chains. The Soufflet Group and Mondelez have teamed up with the French start-up Connecting Food to follow the wheat chain and highlight their products of French origin. In its Carrefour 2022 transformation plan, the Carrefour group indicated that it was necessary to invest more in digital and use blockchain technology to guarantee consumers full transparency.
The “Local First” approach has also gained in importance throughout the pandemic. The Carrefour group has partnered with the French startup Mirakl to launch a food and beverage market that encourages local buying. The startup Too Good To Go has worked closely with companies to meet the challenges of food waste, particularly in France with a pact on consumption dates. The ambition of the pact is to clarify the labels “to be consumed preferably before”, and “to be consumed until”, today responsible for 10% of food waste in Europe. Signed by more than 50 players in the food sector, including Nestlé, Danone, Intermarché and Carrefour, it is clear that a dynamic is taking place and that a sustainable future is possible. But how did we get there?
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