Future food systems must capitalise on circular thinking to improve in terms of ethics, fairness and sustainability.
That’s according to a new report published by Veris Strategies, which reveals 33% of British grocery shoppers regularly think about the ethical impact of the food they eat and 86% of experts questioned think consumers are increasingly basing their food choices on issues of welfare, food integrity, deforestation and fair trade.
The report notes circular thinking in the sector has traditionally focussed on preventing food waste but stresses it should also encompass these other issues – it suggests they can be addressed by “applying circularity in a more holistic way”, for example by moving towards mixed agriculture, developing better husbandry, maximising efficiency through better data or bringing food production closer to the point of consumption.
It suggests circular economy approaches can help promote a more regenerative and efficient food system, which in turn could lessen the need for intensive farming and reduce the environmental impact of the food produced.
The report states: “By applying circular principles, there is a clear opportunity here for farmers to ‘do more with less’ by improving both the quality and yield of meat they produce and building a reputation for premium products both home and abroad.”
Nearly half of the food companies investigated said that their organisation were either already exploring or planning to explore circular opportunities.
Industry experts noted there are barriers to overcome if the food industry is to scale up circularity, including mindset, behaviour change and a lack of knowledge.