Food and agriculture ‘urgently needs to go green’

The food and agriculture industry urgently needs to improve its energy efficiency. That’s according to a new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which suggests energy […]

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By Jonny Bairstow

The food and agriculture industry urgently needs to improve its energy efficiency.

That’s according to a new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which suggests energy use in the agro-food sector is continuing to rise.

The group says as farms and factories in many countries are highly dependent on fossil fuels, this contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.

It says improvements in efficiency need to be implemented to reduce these emissions, minimise energy costs and use scarce natural resources as effectively as possible, while maintaining the current level and quality of output and services.

Food systems account for as much as 20% of total energy use in some OECD countries but changing consumer habits and preferences mean direct energy use by agriculture accounts for around only 2% on average.

This gap has been caused by an increase in demand for ready-to-eat meals and snacks, which require more energy intensive processing.

The OECD suggests areas of focus should be nutrient management, precision farming, waste recovery and more efficient manufacturing, refrigeration and transportation technologies.

It says private energy management must increasingly incorporate clearly defined responsibilities, use robust data, feature ongoing performance review and set targets for the future.

It adds a clear, consistent regulatory environment is essential to address policy failures and encourage private companies to adopt green behaviours.