Season 3, Post 40: The other big food challenge
In case you missed it, World Food Day took place last weekend. While it specifically marks the anniversary of the foundation of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation in 1945, it also constitutes a platform for highlighting some of the most significant problems facing the world. As the UN states, “the food you choose and the way you consume it affects our health and that of our planet.”
Our latest piece of thematic work discussed the importance of feeding the planet more intelligently. We need to decrease our dependence on conventional (animal-based) protein and embrace alternatives, whether they be plant-based, insect-based or cultured. A totally different way of being more intelligent – and the primary topic of this week’s Blog – is to confront food wastage.
Consider that one-third of all food produced ends up as waste, costing the global economy over $900bn annually. Food waste occurs at every stage of the supply chain, from production losses to post-harvest handling and storage, processing and distribution – and that’s before it even gets into the hands of the consumer. It’s quite remarkable that the average American wastes 10 times more food annually than the same consumer in South East Asia. However, half of this wastage could be prevented simply by extra shelf-life days. Better preservation can make a difference, especially in categories such as bread and meat (respectively, the highest volume and value categories of food waste globally).
The good news is that 78% of global consumers associate food waste with sustainability. Meanwhile, 44% of consumers across the world say that they are willing to pay extra for food and beverage products that help solve food waste. The other positive development is that innovators within the industry are producing enzymes and other preservation solutions that do have an impact. At its recent Investor Day, Kerry Group (the source for all the statistics in this piece), highlighted several case studies whereby the shelf-life of quick service burgers could be extended by over 50%, or refrigerated plant-based protein could keep for an extra four days. The opportunity is significant: were current food wastage trends reversed, then this ‘recovered’ food would be enough to feed everyone globally who is under-nourished three times over.
22 October 2021
The above does not constitute investment advice and is the sole opinion of the author at the time of publication. Heptagon Capital is an investor in Kerry Group. The author of this piece has no personal direct investment in the business. Past performance is no guide to future performance and the value of investments and income from them can fall as well as rise.
Alex Gunz, Fund Manager
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