Immediate collective action among food companies, municipal actors and NGOs is needed to avert a water crisis that poses real short-term threats to the food
and agriculture sectors in the US, water risk experts have found.
The analysis from Morningstar Sustainalytics focused on the gigantic Ogallala Aquifer in the Great Plains region in the US and found water stresses like water depletion, old pipes, irrigation, droughts and polluted water were being exacerbated by widespread water mismanagement by food companies, farmers, government bodies, water utilities and others.
It found 69 out of 114 packaged foods companies (60%) operating in the Great Plains area had weak or non-existent water management practices. Another 49 of 114 firms (43%) in related food supply chains had similarly poor water stewardship records and plans.
Report co-author, Matthew Howard, VP of Water Stewardship at Milwaukee-based The Water Council, called on food firms to “act now to mitigate risks” with even basic measures such as fixing leaks, metering water use and “adding water aspects to existing management systems.”
General Mills and Tyson Foods were called out for leading the way in this kind of pragmatic water care. “Both companies have water stewardship programs to mitigate water-related risk, including water efficiency goals and actions, which will result in reducing freshwater use.”
Celleste Bio co-founder and CTO Hanne Volpin with the brown stuff she hopes to revolutionize. Pic: Lawrence Harris
Israeli start-up Celleste Bio is building momentum to disrupt the chocolate supply chain… by growing cocoa in a lab.
Formed in July, the firm has already attracted the interest of Big Chocolate with Mondelēz International onboard with undisclosed seed funding.
Other backers include food-focused venture capitalist, Barrel Ventures, Israeli agricultural co-op Regba Group and agri-food and medical tech VC, Trendlines.
Celleste Bio’s USP utilizes cell culture to grow high quality cocoa without the plant waste and devastated rainforests and primate populations in west African countries such as Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana where around 60% of the world’s cocoa is sourced.
“Why grow something where you use less than 1% of the entire biomass of what you are growing?” Celleste Bio co-founder and chief technology officer Hanne Volpin told FoodNavigator-USA. “And why grow a food we really don’t need on increasingly sparse arable land? We could collectively decide never to grow it again or we can get creative and look at alternatives."
“We don't have to wait until we have no more chocolate bunnies to solve that problem. And it turns out companies like Mondelēz International are interested in this for reasons both biological and environmental.”
A previously obscure, nutrient-rich Indonesian nut is set to hit European shelves after winning EU novel foods approval that could also help protect under-threat kenari forests on the archipelago.
Kenari is primed for debut in the EU’s 27 member states after decades of use in mostly eastern and northern Indonesian islands but under a shadow as logging and mining activity threaten the very kenari forests from which the nuts are sourced.
The co-founders of the Indonesian firm Kawanasi Sehat Dasacatur, which lodged the just-approved EU submission in 2020, told Ingredients Network that aside from opening important European markets, the novel foods approval bolstered its intensifying lobbying of sector stakeholders and the Indonesian government to protect some kenari old growth forests.
“It is central to Kawanasi’s business core that we support the protection of the wild forest,” Felix Kusmanto and Debby Amalia King said ahead of a meeting this month with Indonesian government officials about expanding kenari tree preservation.
“The novel foods approval helps build our case for sure so we are very excited about what it means for protecting Indonesian kenari growth areas – and growing our business. It’s all about building the ‘kenari army’.”
Anna Brightman, co-founder of UpCircle, said the potential to expand into other repurposed ingredients was vast.
“When it comes to by-product ingredients, there is an endless supply,” Brightman told CosmeticsDesign-Europe. “We always like to remind ourselves that one-third of all food in the UK is wasted, yet nearly one-third of people have a skin care routine. That’s one huge opportunity to save the planet through skin care.”
Since 2016, UpCircle had already ‘saved’ 400 tonnes of its pioneer upcycled ingredient coffee, she said, and that was set to build further. “Based on our current rates of growth, it is estimated that this will rise to 1,000 tonnes in the next five years.”
Being in the circular beauty business did on occasion present supply chain challenges, Brightman said, noting the temporary, or in some cases permanent,
closure of coffee shops during COVID-19 lockdowns causing difficulties.
“Every repurposed ingredient that we work with has been taken from another industry,” she said. “This means that it needs to be processed in one way or another in order that it’s appropriate for use in skin care. More often than not, we’re the first beauty brand to be working with these ingredients at scale – so we’ve had to figure out our supply chain, manufacturing and general operational hurdles ourselves.
“Being a disruptor brand means that the path that you forge will always be bumpy,” she said.
The ITC 2020 Global Supplement Buying Habits Reports take a deep dive into supplement users in the US, UK and Germany (2,000 respondents). The 28-page detailed report covers:
Supplement consumer demographics
What supplements they’re buying and using
Shopping habits – what and where they buy and purchase enhancers and detractors
Data on the influence of trust, transparency and sustainability on purchase habits
To see a preview, please click here to download the Table of Contents and Executive Summary.