1 in 7
Almost one in seven people around the world are chronically hungry or have food insecurities – they lack enough food to be healthy and lead active lives.
Agricultural policies – the prices of certain commodities, like meat and grain – and economic considerations tremendously impact food security, but demographic trends also play a role.
Food producers insist that there is enough food to feed all the people in the world – even though the population has doubled since 1970 and is projected to reach 8.6 billion by 2030.
As our global population increases, the demand for food is driven up- which results in additional use of resources, like fertile or productive land and water.
This is especially true in the absence of adequate food production technology and integrated programs that simultaneously address each community’s needs, and food producer’s ability to maintain a strong, healthy, profitable manufacturing business to produce and supply the food for the people.
This data clearly illustrates that even with the current world population, there are significant hunger challenges. The food supply chain simply cannot support the continued growth of the population in a safe and sustainable way without an influx of widespread innovative technologies and methodologies.
The greatest threat to the food supply chain is the lack of transparence and traceability. In its current state, the global supply chain is fragmented – there are billions of contributors with little to no governance or compliance management processes. The danger – disconnection – is very real for many lower socio-economic segments of the population.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) projects that by 2050, population and economic growth will result in a doubling of demand for food globally, making food insecurity more pressing and more difficult.
Recent research suggests that climate change will have an impact on the availability of the raw ingredients that manufacturers need to provide healthy, nutritious food.
It is incumbent upon food producers to do everything they can to mitigate global warming with eco-sustainably sourced ingredients and process solutions that reduce their carbon footprint.
The coexistence of hunger and obesity – squandered resources and food waste – are challenges for producers in the food and beverage industry. A growing number of researchers question the long-term sustainability of the current trends in the production and consumption of food.
In many regions around the globe, particularly including Europe, food production is close to exceeding environmental limits.
To meet food security goals, experts consider the stresses on food systems. Rising demand for food, driven by population growth and dietary change, along with the effects of climate change and other environmental problems have compounded the challenges.
Traditionally, food security issues have focused on supply and demand – simply producing more calories. The quality of the calories was often not considered. Diet related disease, increased allergies to foods and healthier choices – like low-sugar, reduced fat or organics – have been addressed by food producers in recent years, however more can be done to eliminate obesity trends.
Children are particularly vulnerable as they are still developing; both childhood obesity and childhood malnutrition have lifelong implications in terms of productivity, and disability.
Too much versus not enough
Because population trends will continue to impact the demand for food for decades to come, it is important that demographic projections be incorporated into plans to improve and achieve greater food security. Mid-term solutions include developing integrated approaches that could address food security vis-a-vie new technology – like blockchain, product lifecycle management, smart contracts and product data management – offer promising solutions.
To put it simply, research indicates that nearly two billion people consume too many calories and are obese, while more than one billion people have barriers to obtaining sufficient nutritional sustenance. This conundrum exists in communities across the U.S. and Europe.
The ease and availability of processed, high energy foods has done little to stem the tide of food insecurities, but much to develop obesity as an international crisis. Overconsumption has become epidemic.
The answer lies – at least partially – in data. Shifting the focus from supply and demand to improved nutrition, education and providing the information that consumers need to make good choices is the first step.
Comprehensive, accurate product labeling processes and best practices for new product development are the key. Studies show that when confronted with accurate product information, consumers make better purchase choices – and these choices eventually become sustainable buying habits.
These are complex issues, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer; but food manufacturers who stand ready to deliver the information that consumers demand to make healthier choices can ensure improved public health and sustainability for future generations.
Calorie labeling and human behaviors
Recent labeling requirements in New York City mandated calorie counts and full nutritional information – not just calories – for standard menu items in quick serve and fast-food restaurants. They also required that standard daily intake data be posted for all to see. The new rules, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio, were simply common sense.
Prepared meals, the mayor reasoned, were embedded in the daily lives of New Yorkers, thus they should have access to the information they need to make healthy choices.
Data accuracy best practices
Food and beverage producers are inundated with challenges – including obesity and food insecurity. Costly trials and simulations, global regulatory compliance for export, crucial first-to-market status for new products and reformulated recipes – and fickle consumer demands for the ‘next new thing.’
Even though the industry generates more than 700B per year, the profit margin on individual products is nearly always razor-thin. In order to survive in a very competitive environment, manufacturers must embrace digital transformation and optimize their data to form a strategic advantage – only then can they turn to solving the obesity and food insecurity challenges that plague society.
As technology evolves, food producer’s data becomes more crucial – and the management of that data becomes imperative. Data accuracy and management can mean the difference between surviving and thriving with sustainable growth in the food and beverage industry. Accurate data provides the integrity that delivers increased revenue for new product innovations, accelerates time to market and improves global regulatory compliance.
Manufacturer’s data provides the insight – upstream and downstream – that guarantees the accuracy and integrity of their products. This essential insight is simply not available or accessible without comprehensive, innovative product lifecycle and product data management process solutions.