Here at Oddbox we’re pretty preoccupied with food-related news, and we started writing the Oddserver to help you keep up with the biggest stories and stay inspired by important progress, So it comes as no surprise that the Oddserver issues of 2022 focused heavily on the fight against food waste and the relationships between agricultural systems, people and the planet.
We mostly grappled with the worldwide consequences of conflict and the cost of living and climate crises. It was a summer for the books, with record-breaking temperatures, low rainfall and ongoing labour shortages. Agflation – or what happens when agricultural production costs skyrocket – entered our vocabulary.
And yet, there were moments of levity and plenty of reasons to hope.
Google search queries for more sustainable ways of living surged over the past year, and over 70% of consumers reported being aware of food waste issues. Supermarkets continued the trend of scrapping “best before” labels, and we welcomed the first-ever “food COP”. We celebrated companies – from Patagonia to Tesco – that didn’t choose between doing good business, and doing business for good.
WE HAVE A WINNER
Last month saw more wins, both big and small, to close out the year with a proverbial bang.
Perhaps the biggest bang of them all? It happened at the UN biodiversity summit COP15, aka the “little sister” to COP27. Nearly 200 countries agreed to protect a third of the planet, with new targets to “halt and reverse” biodiversity loss by 2030. What’s more, they also agreed to a target to halve global food waste by the end of the decade too.
“It is truly a moment that will mark history as Paris did for climate,” said Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s Minister for the Environment and Climate Change.
And we’ve got more to look forward to in the new year. Ireland might hold areferendum on giving nature the same rights as people in terms of protecting biodiversity. While the deal has yet to be sealed, the EU mightban single-use food containers.
THE ROAD AHEAD
When it comes to trend forecasting in the food world? “Food waste will move into the spotlight [in 2023],” predicted Nidhi Chauhan, a senior analyst at Global Data. And it will be for reasons around both sustainability and cost-efficiency.
“I am hopeful that 2023 will be the year that [the] government gets serious about British food and farming,” said National Farmers Union president, Minette Batters. With the NFU warning that the UK is “sleepwalking” into a food supply crisis, the body is calling on the government to prioritise food security and increase support for farmers.
Regenerative agriculture, aka rehabilitative farming practices that range from restoring topsoil to crop rotation, may see more widespread adoption this year. “More people are aware of the increase in food prices, which also encourages sustainable local production as well as more diversification in farms,” said Cherri Atilano, founder of farming non-profit Agrea.
As awareness grows, will more action follow suit? Lifestyle changes around food consumption – such as eating less meat or purchasing “wonky” produce – are to be expected in the coming year, according to market research firm Mintel Trends.
As ever, only time will tell. So long, ‘22. Cheers, ‘23.