A recent report by Forum for the Future entitled The Future of Food, asks: “Are food businesses on track to deliver a sustainable protein system by 2040?”
As the reports explains, food systems are at the center of major social and environmental challenge facing our planet, but these systems also have the opportunity to create significant positive changes. Population growth and changing food demands, coupled with decreasing natural resources, continue to elevate the complexity and challenge of nurturing our global food source. The report suggests that food systems “can transform at scale and pace to deliver sustainable nutrition that is good for people and the planet.” While many companies are making an impact, the writers offer a call to action for more comprehensive and bold strategies.
A primary focus of the report is the need for more sustainable protein sources. A key element of achieving more sustainable protein involves how current animal-based protein is grown. As the organization’s Protein Challenge “Feed Behind Our Food” outlines:
“Animal feed production and processing accounts for approximately 45% of the GHG emissions associated with livestock production (with land use change, which varies significantly by region, being a major cause of these emissions.)”
Agricultural production for all purposes already consumes 70% of the planet’s arable land and 55% of fresh water supplies. Most ag experts agree that global demand will require food production to double by 2050. By doing the math, we can easily see that we need to use our current resources more efficiently. Meeting demand for the feeding the animals that feed the world requires more land than possibly available. While agricultural technology continues to advance to meet these challenges, the report challenges companies to design better strategies that shift towards a more sustainable feed source.
Looking for Solutions
The report calls for a number of strategies to deliver more sustainable feed systems, including responsible sourcing, zero deforestation, and more efficient feed diets. The writers also advocate for using underutilized resources that already exist:
“using waste, co- and by-products not fit for human consumption in feed, supporting more circular, closed loop methods and reducing the land required to grow feed.”
How are companies doing to meet this challenge? Of the companies reviewed for the report, only 11% had public commitments for upcycling food by-products into nutritious feed ingredients.
While a comprehensive strategy must rely on many solutions, a commitment to sustainable feed can have a significant impact. At Green Field Solutions, we help companies repurpose about 2.5 billion pounds of by-products annually. That’s the GHG emissions equivalent of taking more than 29 million cars off the road per year. We direct these products into the highest economic and sustainable uses. By reusing what we already have and offsetting feed production, we are helping our clients use their resources more effectively and be better stewards of the planet. Together, we can scale up sustainable solutions.