By Dr. Nigel Hughes, SVP of Global R&D and Innovation, The Kellogg Company
Our global food system is under tremendous pressure today. It’s estimated that two out of three people are undernourished, and we’re at risk of not meeting the United Nation’s SDG Goal No. 2 – ending hunger, achieving food security, and improving wellbeing and sustainable agriculture by 2030.
It’s clear that progress is slow-moving, but there are some tangible strategies that the food industry can implement to overcome the challenges facing today’s food system.
1. Build on the foundations and heritage of the original food system.
Changing consumer preferences, eating behaviors and the importance of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) have ignited a paradigm shift from food as a commodity to food as a celebration, a language, and even a personal ethos.
W.K. Kellogg started Kellogg Company based on what was achievable in Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1906. He looked out his window and saw fields of corn; he took those ingredients to make the original Corn Flakes. After 116-years of developing 1,000+ plant-based foods spanning 180 countries, we believe that the future of food relies – at least in part – on lessons from the past.
When we source local ingredients, we can create truly local, culturally relevant foods. Couple that with a systems approach that allows us to look at the food system and the combination holistically, it enables us to address food insecurity and balance the tradeoffs of nutrition, sustainability, access, and taste – ultimately creating a sustainable food system.
2. Develop collective solutions.
New farming techniques, low-carbon foods, and technological advancements have the potential to create a more efficient and sustainable food system. To transform our food system and its impact on climate, we must bring farmers, suppliers, consumers, policymakers and NGOs to the table and create a shared vision with a shared responsibility to benefit all.
At Kellogg, through our Better Days ESG strategy, we are committed to supporting 1 million farmers and workers by 2030; we know that the power of partnership and programs tailored to local needs is vital. For example, Kellogg is implementing a $2 million, five-year climate-positive agricultural program, Kellogg’s InGrained™,that will work with partners in the Lower Mississippi River Basin to reward rice farmers for the tons of greenhouse gas emission they reduce.
As we strive to create a world where people are not just fed but fulfilled, this is one of many examples of partnerships we’re engaged with to create a sustainable food system that addresses the interconnected issues of health, hunger relief and climate.
3. Accelerate the circular food system.
The current food system has supported a fast-growing population and rapid economic development. However, these gains have come at an unstainable cost, and the time is now for a significant rethink. We must move from a linear approach to a circular one that prioritizes regenerative production, reduces resource inputs and aims to ensure recovery for future uses and minimize wastage.
Creating such a systemic shift will require time and funding, as well as collective willpower – but without this, agriculture and our food systems are on a trajectory to suffer in the long-term. We can start the change in several, small ways. For example, Kellogg is upcycling “rejected” foods in a number of our brands, including:
- Potatoes – we use 75% of rejected potatoes to make Pringles.
- Fruit – our Nutrigrain brand uses fillings wholly coming from non-saleable misshapen fruits.
- We’ve teamed up with Salford brewery, Seven Bro7hers, to turn less-than-perfect Rice Krispies and Coco Pops into beer.
An equitable food system creates a new paradigm where everyone has a seat at the table, can fully participate, gain access and prosper. It’s critical we as an industry work together to achieve this.