In this new era of transparency, it’s essential that the food and beverage industry keeps its eye on the ball when it comes to key issues such as sustainability in the supply chain. Issues such as advances occurring in sustainable ingredients, and developments happening in formulation, production and marketing of sustainable food and beverages were key issues discussed during the Sustainable Food Summit held this past week, Jan. 18-20, in San Francisco.
Organic Monitor, a specialist research, consulting and training company that focuses on global sustainable product industries, that organized the summit provided key predictions for sustainable foods in 2017.
Global sales of organic foods are expected to continue the positive trajectory, with most growth envisaged in North America and Northern Europe. Organic food sales in the United States and Canada are predicted to surpass US$50 billion for the first time this year. The market share of organic foods is also expected to approach 7 to 10 percent in the United States, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and neighboring countries. With growth in organic farmland slowing, supply shortfalls are expected.
Fairtrade will retain its position as the second largest eco-label for food products, however fragmentation will continue: more fair trade labels and standards are envisaged. Other eco-labels are gaining traction in specific product categories; for instance, Rainforest Alliance for agricultural commodities, and Marine Stewardship Council for seafood.
The market share of sustainable sourced ingredients is expected to rise. Roughly 20 percent of all coffee is now produced according to some sustainability scheme. The share of sustainable sourced tea, cocoa, vanilla and sugar is expected to increase as large companies such as Barry Callebaut and Givaudan make ethical commitments.
Metrics are likely to become prominent in the sustainability programs of food and ingredient companies. While carbon and water footprints are still the most popular metrics, expect to see more metrics for energy, resource usage, waste and social parameters. More natural and organic food companies are envisaged to make carbon neutral and zero waste pledges.
Food Authenticity & Traceability
Greater investment is envisaged in ingredient supply chains to provide transparency and to reduce risks of food fraud and adulteration. Non-GMO labeling schemes are expected to continue to gain popularity in North America, although the GMO labeling bill has been passed. Retail sales of Non-GMO Project Verified food sales are predicted to exceed $20 billion in 2017.
As food waste rises on the sustainability agenda, more food companies and retailers will make waste reduction pledges. Food byproducts will get greater recognition as a raw material and become a source of new products. ReGrained is an example of a sustainable food enterprise innovating using such raw materials.
The adoption rate of sustainable materials, such as bioplastics, is expected to rise. More natural and organic food companies are likely to adopt such materials as they look to reduce their packaging impacts.