How Much Trust Do You Put in the [Current] Food Chain?
The growing – literally hungry – world population, combined with the depletion of natural resources resulting from mass food production, seems incompatible with the desire to have access to more sustainable, fair-trade and nutritive food products. In wealthier parts of the globe, where people have the means to carefully consider their food choices today – or at least we would believe so – a seemingly naïve question might be raised: “Has trust in the food chain been increasing over the past few years?” Some may naturally answer “Heck no!” But here is where we seem to be turning a page.
Since 2018, an overall increase between 3% to 8% in consumer trust in all parts of the food sector was detected by a so-called TrustTracker® 2020 survey from EIT Food, based on a consistent 5-country sample (France, Germany, Poland, Spain and UK).1 When it comes to the main players in the food chain, farmers win the race as most trusted (67%), far ahead of manufacturers (46%), authorities (47%) and retailers (53%). Expecting that the actions of all main players will continue improving, it is helpful to remember what trust these days is about: Transparency from farm to fork, closer relationships, smaller businesses, better labelling, more focus on natural & local and shorter value chains.(1)
In the meantime, when we look to the future, another loud debate arises: population growth vs food chain capacity. How are we going to feed all of us? It sounds puzzling at first, but don’t get discouraged. Homo sapiens has thrived for millions of years thanks to a singular trait: Being innovative. To put things in perspective, we have developed rudimentary agricultural techniques that have been perfected over centuries. The result today? Some truly mind-blowing technologies: Intelligent greenhouses for self-growing vegetables (MyFood in France) (2), protein produced out of thin air (Solar Foods in Finland)(3), meat patties made from plants that look and taste just like beef (Impossible Foods in USA) (4), milk proteins involving no cow milking provenance (Perfect Day in USA) (5) and even the emblematic French foie gras has been facing its own reinvention (Gourmey in France) (6). Yet, it is important to highlight, just as with the traditional food chain, such high-tech products will need transparency and outreach, to ensure that the above-mentioned trust continues to grow.
Ready to open the door to a more hopeful new era? There are empty seats onboard.
by Fernanda Haffner.
Fernanda is Senior Technology Scout at TechScout