Although we aim for reduction in waste and improvements in technology, dietary shifts is the area that has the largest potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, so why isn’t more being done when 30% of the population have weight problems, surely giving even more of a reason to change for the better.
Meat from the farm is one way our diets can change but when a room full of people were asked what they consumed for breakfast, at least half raised their hands for meat, second most common involved a dairy based meal with plant based, fruit option coming in third. This room had potentially the most educated humans on sustainability and even these individuals were not consuming sustainably.
What can be done?
If educated sustainable business wo/men are unable to consume sustainably, what does this say for the rest of the population? Consumers need nudging partly because ‘meat consumption is a “normal” part of the diet’ (Godfray et al., 2018). Perhaps it is as simple as moving meat dishes below vegetarian meals on a menu to increase the number opting for meat-free dishes, but further evidence is needed and what happens to consumption in their own home?
Move to fork to farm.
Therefore, perhaps it should not be a case of farm to fork and instead, fork to farm. This way, we can understand consumers behaviour as increasingly emotions are associated with food. If we find out how to trigger emotions, then it is more likely that companies can communicate more sustainable choices in line with customer expectations. There is a requirement for dietary shifts as 1/3 of all food produced is lost or wasted every year from farm to fork, with the total loss valued at around $1.2trillion, suggesting even more of a reason to turn our attention to the consumer.
Having attended the ‘fork to farm’ session at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) annul conference in Singapore, I was fascinated how the FReSH initiative focuses on consumer behaviour change, in addition to diversified protein and positive nutrition. As the population nears the projected 9.8 billion by 2050, diets need to change so it great to see FMCG leading the way including member company, Unilever who are finding alternatives to meat protein and implementing 20g of natural protein into a 20g Breyers delight tub.
Similarly, stakeholders have combined to offer 30% less sugar alternatives such as Nestle’s Wowsomes and Cadbury’s Dairy Milk as government regulators implement an industry aim of a reduction in sugar by 20%. Consumers are tentative about compromising on taste, ultimately highlighting the importance of the consumer in the dietary shift.
There are implications when every country has a different policy but ultimately to have greater impact, collaboration is required whilst putting the consumer firmly at the front of innovation.
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Boseley, S. (2018). Nestlé says it has harnessed science to reduce the sugar in chocolate. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/mar/27/nestle-says-it-has-harnessed-science-to-reduce-the-sugar-in-chocolate [Accessed 9 Dec. 2018].
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