Anyone who listens to the news regularly will get the idea that all is not well in the food system. With climate change, obesity, growing hunger alongside food waste, global warming, CO2 emissions, decreasing biodiversity, we get the feeling that something needs to change.
But when you start to look at the facts you begin to see the size of the issues and how the whole farm to fork system needs to evolve to something better. Something that is net positive. Something that works for people. Something that works for the planet.
Almost 1 billion people in 92 countries do not have enough food to eat. 55 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia, are already in acute hunger crises, emergency, or famine conditions.
The UK's overseas land footprint for just 7 commodities (palm oil, beef, soy, cocoa, rubber, timber and pulp and paper) was more than 21 million hectares between 2016-2018 — all in countries where natural ecosystems are at risk of being cleared for land use.
- To achieve the UK's Net Zero target by 2050 a significant release of land out of agricultural production (9% by 2035) will be needed to enable an acceleration in the planting of trees, hedges, energy crops and the restoration of degraded peatland.
- It takes several thousand years to build a thin layer of fertile topsoil, but only an hour of heavy rain to lose it.
- If current rates of degradation continue all of the world's topsoil could be gone within 60 years.
- Around 64% of adults and 40% of children in England are overweight or living with obesity.
- On average, adults are consuming 200-300 more calories than needed each day.
- 69% of those in the most deprived groups are overweight or obese and many are eating insufficient fruit and vegetables, fibre and oily fish.
Excess weight and poor diet are drivers of other health conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, 13 types of cancer and muscular conditions, and taken together cost the NHS £6.1 billion every year.
Poor diet was responsible for one in seven deaths in the UK (90,000 a year) – nearly as fatal as smoking (95,000 a year).
At least 16 government departments and agencies are involved in developing and implementing policies that impact food systems at the national level in the UK.
Globally, over 33% of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted each year.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from UK agriculture are estimated to cost the UK £3.1 billion per year (Defra, 2018). Agriculture is responsible for 10% of the UK's GHG emissions (judged by CO2e) as well as over half the UK's methane emissions and three-quarters of its N2O, both much more potent GHGs than CO2.
- Up to one-third of greenhouse gas emissions result from the food system.
- Food systems are contributing to up to 80% of biodiversity loss.
- Food is the UK's largest industrial sector.
- The food sector is the biggest employer in the UK, employing over 4 million people.
- The sugar tax has resulted in the industry reducing the total amount of sugar in the drinks within the Soft Drinks Industry Levy's scope by around 44%.
Globally, Nestlé plans to spend roughly CHF 3.2 billion by 2025 to meet its net-zero by 2050 aspirations.
Almost one-third of that money will be dedicated to cultivating regenerative agricultural practices that improve soil health and reduce dependence on synthetic fertilizer across 500,000-plus farms from which Nestlé sources ingredients.