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The food business’ impact on the environment can be rather depressing to think about.
According to the United Nations, a third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted. The food industry is responsible for 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions. And people in the U.S. throw out about 40% of all food they buy each year, which adds up to about $400 per person.
But Hanneke Faber, Unilever’s president of foods & refreshment, can see the opportunity.
“As a business, we don’t like food waste either,” she said. “That costs money if we make stuff and we don’t sell it. So it really can be a win-win-win for people, for planet and for business if we attack and address and solve these issues.”
Unilever set its first sustainability goals in 2010, and has been adding to them since then. The international company’s latest goals, released this past November, include cutting food waste from factory to shelf in half by 2025 — five years sooner than the company had previously committed to as part of the 10x20x30 initiative. The goals also include increasing plant-based sales to be worth 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) in the next five to seven years, which Faber said is tied to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from traditional animal-based agriculture.
Nestlé has strengthened its position in the e-commerce market after agreeing a deal to acquire UK-based recipe kit company SimplyCook for an undisclosed sum. Stefano Agostini, Nestlé UK & Ireland CEO, said the acquisition “underlines our focus on investing in businesses with attractive growth prospects and acting on current trends.”
The acquisition continues Nestlé’s expansion into the meal and recipe kit delivery sector, which is among those to benefit from the overall boom in e-commerce during the COVID-19 pandemic. The SimplyCook deal follows Nestlé’s acquisition of a majority stake in another UK recipe kit firm, Mindful Chef, and its acquisition of US-based meal delivery company Freshly.
Dairy giant Danone has expanded its plant-based portfolio to include US-based Earth Island, the company behind the popular Follow Your Heart brand. Danone has announced that it has agreed to buy US-based company Earth Island who produce the pioneering plant-based brand, Follow Your Heart.
Danone North America now owns 100% of the shares of Earth Island, which it says represents a strong cultural fit with Danone and provides them with a “unique opportunity to strengthen its plant-based business”.
“We want zero food loss at our site where we produce, but also in the whole chain, right up to the consumer,” she says.The commitment is part of Dole’s drive to ‘change from a packaged fruit company to a health and nutrition company’, Spindler-Jacobs added. She believes Dole’s plans address a key issue in the food manufacturing industry.“There’s a lot of food waste in general but especially for fruits,” she says. “It’s terrible because on one hand, people don’t have enough food, and on the other hand, [the industry has] fruit and food waste.”
SCOTLAND could become top of the pops if plans for the world’s first sustainable soft drink bear fruit.
It is hoped the project can also put the fizz back into Dunoon which was once home to a thriving soft drinks industry.
From the late 1800s right through to the 1970s, the town was sparkling with the energy of the trade until it was hit by the rise of the supermarkets.
Now it is the scene of what is hoped will be a soda revival after a new creative partnership secured funding to launch a soft drink brand called Dunoon Goes Pop.
It is one of three projects selected to be supported by the Place Makers: Micro-cluster Networks Fund, run by Culture Heritage and Arts Argyll and Isles (Charts), in partnership with the Innovation School at The Glasgow School of Art.
Described as a cultural heritage project, Dunoon Goes Pop is a collaboration between Hannah Clinch of locally based design agency Tacit-Tacit, local illustrator Walter Newton and heritage innovation expert Manda Forster of DigVentures.
“Securing this Place Makers: Micro-cluster Networks Fund from Charts is not just a vote of confidence in the project but a vital step in providing the support we need to make Dunoon ‘go pop’ again,” said Clinch.
“Scotland has a complex relationship with pop and we are interested in exploring these tensions, learning more about the industry and figuring out if it is possible to build an ethical soft drinks business in our town.”
She pointed out that for over 100 years a soft drinks factory had thrived in Dunoon as the town expanded rapidly with the advent of steam powered transport and wealth generated through global commodities trading.
The carbonation technology needed to make and bottle soft drinks was developed in Europe in the 1850s. These processes were understood by pharmacists who made up health remedies using a wide range of technical equipment and ingredients.
One of them was Dunoon-based George Stirling who seized on the technology to make his “Aerated Waters” which were sold throughout the town and surrounding areas to visitors and locals seeking refreshment and an alternative to alcohol.
His eldest son, also called George, carried on the trade and built a drinks factory, which boasted a steam powered carbonation plant, just off Dunoon’s main shopping street.
The factory survived two world wars and a company buy-out by Glasgow based Dunns. It finally closed in the 1970s as the centralisation of food manufacturing and distribution systems, linked to the rise of the supermarket, reduced the viability of small scale food manufacturing operations.
These shifts in food buying culture also hastened the demise of glass bottles being refilled and resold as they were replaced by the environmentally toxic, single use plastic bottles used widely today.
The Dunoon Goes Pop project will now work with Zero Waste Scotland and Business Gateway to look at the viability of bringing a sustainable soft drinks business back to the town.
“Our goal with Dunoon Goes Pop is to use this enterprise heritage to inform the development of a new brand of locally made soft drinks for, and with, our community,” said Clinch.
The other projects to gain the awards are Eco Creatives Cluster which is establishing a creative community network around a community dye garden in the grounds of the Rockfield Centre, a newly refurbished culture and heritage venue, and Take Flight, an arts programme led by the SO:AR artist collective to introduce regular arts experiences on Jura, linking with communities on other islands.
To some, the pristine growing conditions and perceived mechanical interference of a vertical farm can seem unnatural, but at Bowery Farming “interference” is actually not the goal at all. “We don’t really think about how people are involved in the growing process, but how to take people out of the growing process” says chief science officer Henry Sztul. “Our goal is actually to have as few people walking around our plants as possible.”
Bowery Farming is a network of vertical farms working to reengineer the growing process. Using a system of light and watering technology, Bowery is able to use 95 percent less water than a traditional outdoor farm, zero pesticides and chemicals, and grow food that tastes as good as anyone else’s.
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