BNF future of food conference predicts 'agricultural revolution'

Tom Hind
Industry
13/10/2017 - 07:00
Delegates at the British Nutrition Foundation’s (BNF) 50th Anniversary Conference heard yesterday how science and technology could ensure the next generation of consumers make healthier food choices.

Speakers at the ‘Who is shaping the food choices of the future?’ event described how they thought innovations in agriculture, food processing and retailing could ensure a sustainable nutritious food supply and influence positive consumer behaviour.

Mark Driscoll, head of food at Forum for the Future, described how innovative collaborations across sectors were key and suggested the need to change the industry's "productivist" ways of thinking.

“In order to secure a more sustainable future for the food chain, we need to change our mindset to maximise the number of people fed per hectare of land, rather than measuring tonnes of food products per hectare,” he said.

“By challenging the way we grow, eat and value food, we can achieve better outcomes across the whole food system – both for humans as well as for the planet.”

Driscoll also spoke about what he felt was the need to ‘scale up’ new forms of sustainable animal feed innovation to meet the demand for animal protein, while at the same time encouraging people to eat more plant-based proteins, and reducing food waste across the food system.

“Globally, 30% of all food produced is wasted, however much of this waste could be converted into useful protein sources,” he added.

Also discussed was how technology haD influenced food production in the past and what is on the horizon for the next 20 years.

Tom Hind, chief strategy officer at the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB), said: “We are on the brink of an agricultural revolution. In the next 20 years we hope to see a variety of innovations, designed to improve efficiency and expand the UK farming sector.

“We are already seeing developments in data-driven decision-making and precision farming in the arable sector, and this is set to expand within livestock farming too – for example, scientific data will be used to analyse the optimum nutritional requirements for individual animals.

“The phenomenon of urban farming is also set to accelerate the industry – by exploring different methods of growing crops indoors, and vertically, there is potential to extend farming into redundant space in the cities.”    

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