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Fi Europe 2023

How to embed sustainable disruption into your company’s DNA [Interview]

Article-How to embed sustainable disruption into your company’s DNA [Interview]

© Fi Global Insights Fi Europe 2023 Speaker interview with Randy Jagt
At this year’s Future of Nutrition Summit, Randy Jagt, strategy partner for the global future of food at Deloitte, will explain how food companies can embed sustainable disruption into their DNA.

With the global population projected to hit 10 billion and agricultural land already in scarcity, Jagt’s presentation will tackle ways of transforming the way food is produced and supplied by using more efficient and environmentally friendly means.

Ahead of the presentation, Randy Jagt explains about the main challenges to be tackled and what changes need to be made to the food system. Going deeper, this interview also touches on how changes such as regenerative farming and circular systems could have a positive impact on the environment and the health of the planet.

What is the singularly most important aspect of the current food system that needs to be addressed in order to keep up with global demand? And why is this?

“Fundamentally, the current food system was designed according to three successful principles: providing tasty and good food; feeding a growing global population; and providing nutrition at the lowest price to ensure affordability. It has never been designed to enable a sustainable system.

“At this moment in time, the food system is a major contributor to CO2 and methane emissions, biodiversity loss, deforestation, and many other sustainability factors. Sustainability needs to be rapidly embedded in the design of our global food system. Without embracing sustainability, the food system will suffer from severe consequences, including climate change, biodiversity loss, soil degradation, and lack of water etc.”

What are the primary disruptive elements that need to be introduced to the food system, and why?

“There are several success factors and disruptive changes that need to be realized, [such as] stepping up transparency and insight for producers and consumers to make better choices. Initiatives like Nutri-Score are helping consumers to make better choices and are having an impact. At this moment, good insight into what is sustainable food and what is not sustainable food is lacking.

“We need to fix food waste – still about 30% of all food consumed and produced is being wasted. Solving this can significantly help to feed the growing population but also reduce carbon emissions.

“We need a protein transformation: rebalancing meat, plant-based, and alternative protein to determine what is the most optimal means with respect to land use, water use, carbon emissions, human nutrition etc. At the moment, a large amount of our agricultural production is used for animal feed while it could be applied for feeding humans directly. We absolutely still need animals and livestock given there are many environments where agriculture is not possible and grazing animals is the best solution. […]

“We also need a different way of farming and food production. This is driven by innovation and technology developments like precision farming or precision crop protection, as well as embracing sustainable food production methods such as regenerative agriculture.

“Finally, governments, companies, and consumers need to team up to accelerate this transformation for it to happen within a limited timeframe. This includes ensuring a viable earning model for the entire food value chain – and especially the farmers. Also, policies and regulations need to be put in place to guide the industry on how to manage the inherent tradeoffs within the food system, with secure animal welfare versus emission reduction as one particular example.”

How can these changes positively impact issues like biodiversity, deforestation and soil degradation?

“A great example is Unilever who just shared the results from their regenerative agriculture projects. Although change in agriculture is usually measured over several years, the results gathered from these projects show that they are already taking root and delivering in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing biodiversity, improving water efficiency and quality, and strengthening soil health.”

How can circular systems be successfully implemented into food systems without making it too complex?

“Within Deloitte we help to facilitate coalitions for companies to work together and realise system changes. What we have noticed is that the best way is to start small. First do a pilot or an MVT [minimal viable transformation] to showcase that it is possible to get initiatives realised. Once successful we determine how best to scale the initiative and involve more partners.”