We need to revolutionise the way we source, produce and consume food to feed a growing population.
By 2050, we see the food and beverage industry needing to focus on the recovery and redistribution of the energy and water used throughout their manufacturing processes, while benefiting local communities. Closing the loop will become a necessity, not a nice-to-have.
The types of food we consume may not change, but where it comes from will be radically different.
Globally, the meat industry accounts for 18% of total greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, which also predicts that the environmental footprint of livestock production will double from its 1999 levels by 2050. Despite our largely grass-based production, agriculture – primarily meat and dairy sectors - is Ireland’s largest contributor, generating 32% of our total national emissions. The pressure will be on to develop more resource-efficient, cost-effective and ethical alternatives, including the mass production of cultured (lab-grown) meat.
The world’s first lab-grown burger was unveiled in 2013 and carried a $300,000 price tag, but long-term predictions suggest that cultured meat will be considerably cheaper than cattle sourced beef and will overcome concerns relating to animal welfare and environmental degradation.
A bug’s life
One of the biggest challenges that future food production will face is around protein. Meat has long been the main source of protein for Ireland but given the economic impetus of the industry, we’ll need to look for other sources in the future. That could mean a huge emerging market in the cultivation of insects, which are as high in flavour as they are in energy. The Economist estimates that a cow requires 8kg of feed to produce 1kg of beef, but only 40% of the cow can be eaten. Whereas, crickets require just 1.7kg of food to produce 1kg of meat, and 80% is considered edible.
The expectation that we will have complete value chain transparency will lead to new production models and enhanced consumer relationships.
Deeper consumer connections
We can already see consumers increasingly demand transparency on how our food is grown, sourced and made. This is likely to evolve into a new type of relationship, where the traditional boundaries of businesses and customers blur.
Technology enabling bespoke nutrition
Data and advances in precision farming mean that it’s increasingly possible to grow, cultivate and produce products that are unique to individual customers. The challenge will be how this is delivered without having a negative impact on the environment.
Technology is already enabling the beginnings of bespoke nutrition.
"30–50% of all food currently produced is lost before reaching a human mouth. Current practices waste up to 50% of all food produced. To feed a population of over 9 billion by 2050, we need to get smart about food waste today.*
From by-product to new product
In addition to the food waste reuse and recovery processes we see today, we expect to see highly innovative new uses for by-products.