Supply chain opinion

Food supply chain fragility: what can be done?

By Fotis Fotiadis

- Last updated on GMT

Fotiadis: 'Investment in new technologies is key to a sustainable food chain'
Fotiadis: 'Investment in new technologies is key to a sustainable food chain'

Related tags Supply chain

Events over the past 18 months have shown how fragile our global food system is. Fotis Fotiadis, chief executive officer and co-founder of Better Origin, discusses what can be done in this opinion piece.

We have experienced, and are still experiencing, food and labour shortages​ that are impacting our access to all sorts of produce.

While we are still trying to digest how the pandemic has affected our supply chains, it is becoming more evident that we cannot rely this much on imported food products.

A good example is the animal feed sector’s reliance on soy, most of which comes from South America. A small disturbance in the global soy supply chain can have a dramatic impact on livestock production in the UK and EU.

Solution in technologies

The solution can be found in technologies that allow for food and feed products to be grown locally. Insects are a great example. At Better Origin, we address the food security problem by producing carbon-negative animal feed in a decentralised manner, local to the farmers and communities.

Another force driving change within the food system is the governments’ ambitious Net Zero goals, including the British farming 2040 Net Zero target.

We strongly support the UK Government’s efforts to ensure further development in more sustainable and innovative technologies. But we hope that this transition will happen much faster with the adoption of technology and not at the expense of food security.

Governments and food producers can transform food production

Food companies have a unique position in the supply chain, impacting both the farmer and the consumer. They can take on a leading role in implementing new technologies and communicating the changes to shoppers.

Governments also have a huge impact on how our food system is going to perform. They can drive and implement policy that can shape the industry, and they have access to funds that help launch new, sustainable technologies.

Every new technology needs support in the path to profitability and to become cost-effective. If the right policy is in place, whether that is through carbon tax or other incentives, it leads to a much faster adoption.

The only way to safeguard food security and achieve Net Zero is by governments and food producers taking initiatives and pushing the boundaries forward.

Insetting, not offsetting

Supermarkets and food companies should look directly into their supply chains before using carbon offsets. So much can be done without leaving the farm, including food waste mitigation and more sustainable feeds. 

With 1.3 billion tonnes of food wasted annually, our solution at Better Origin is to upcycle food waste into animal feed using insects. This reduces the poultry industry’s dependency on imported feed such as soy and helps supermarkets and food producers achieve Net Zero.

By replacing soy and tackling food waste, the Better Origin X1 can mitigate up to 565 tonnes of CO2​ emissions a year.

A recent study by Promar International uncovered that on a free-range farm, 85% of the carbon footprint comes from feed. And with soy being the most popular protein source, this number is never small.

Alternative protein sources

Alternative protein sources​, such as algae and insect feed, are also gaining popularity as we look for ways to increase animal welfare and eliminate land-heavy crops.

Insects need less land, water, and energy compared to any other feedstock. They are also a better source of protein thanks to their rich amino acid profile. And, unlike soy, which travels for thousands of miles, they can be grown locally. They also need minimal supervision – the whole process can happen inside a standard shipping container, with feeding, temperature, and growth managed by AI.

Investment in new technologies is key to a sustainable food chain. Working with and investing in start-ups and smaller companies whose sole focus are these issues, will help to ensure that supermarkets, food producers, and farmers can accelerate their Net Zero targets and implement long-term changes. 

Fotis Fotiadis is chief executive officer and co-founder of Better Origin

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Posted by JD Lund,

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