Based on current population growth, humans will need three planets identical to Earth by the year 2050 if we hope to sustain our present lifestyles. Sustainable business practices, particularly in the supply chain, can reduce the impact society has on the environment, but can also cut costs for both businesses and consumers.
The Food Industry and a Sustainable Future
The 3rd North American Sustainable Foods Summit, hosted in San Fransisco on January 22 and 23, focused on improving supply chains in the food industry. According to journalist Jonathan Bloom, “Agriculture uses 10% of the world’s oil, nearly half of the available land, and 80% of our water resources.” About one-third of the food produced is lost or wasted somewhere along the supply chain. In 2010, supermarkets, restaurants, and consumers spent more than 33 million tons of food to US landfills. Food industry leaders can support sustainable agriculture while working toward eliminating food waste by improving the efficiency of their supply chains.
Sustainable Initiatives for Food Supply Chains
More than 160 food industry executives took part in the Sustainable Foods Summit. Several speakers offered insight into problems with current systems as well as ideas to become more efficient. Liz Young with Local Harvest discussed how local sourcing benefits the entire community, while UN agents presented a new initiative that gives small farmers carbon credits for reforestation or sustainable agriculture projects.
Amy Kirkland with the Food Waste Reduction Alliance says, “The landfill should be the last resort for food waste. Source reduction, feed hungry people, feed animals, industrial uses, composting are preferred routes.” Bon Appetit began a food recovery program that rescues usable food from the waste stream. Whole Foods Market started composting their food waste.
Sustainable practices will become increasingly common, especially in the food industry’s supply chain. Scotland Food and Drink, along with Zero Waste Scotland, has launched a similar strategy.