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What does our world look like in 2050? How can we create a food system without compromise that’s sustainable, healthy and even-handed? Which innovations bring about this system for food consumption, production and waste? This article explains Deloitte’s vision for the future of food. Our visions are invitations to clients, partners, and everyone who's future-minded to join us in envisaging – and accordingly shaping – a pleasant planet.
The food outlook of 2050 in a three-point nutshell:
Our food system doesn’t allow for compromise: it’s sustainable, healthy and even-handed.
A food and health ecosystem allows for hyper-personalisation of food, and enables us to use food as medicine.
The Netherlands is a global operator and innovation hub for sustainable food production and waste valorisation.
A food system without compromise
In 2050, our food system differs in many aspects radically from what it is now. Food comes from self-sufficient vertical farms and ‘meat plants’ that cultivate meat from stem cells. Our menu is tailored precisely for us as an individual and is a key driver of our health.
Thanks to genome-based enhancements, we can harvest more, and crops are better protected against external influences. Farming efficiency is exceptional due to AI and an abundance of data. And as for waste in 2050: there is none.
By 2050, we value the true cost of food, rather than just the cost of producing, processing and shipping. Food prices reflect the impact – both on our environment and on our health – of all these steps in the value chain. As a result, we eat more locally and responsibly grown, seasonal and healthy foods.
This includes fair earning models and social sustainability for our food growers supported and enabled by the financial industry. Exotic foods are still part of our diets, but are reserved mostly for special occasions. The majority of animal-based protein in our diets comes from innovative, environment- and animal-friendly solutions, replacing traditional farm animal-based protein, hence diminishing the need for intensive animal farming.
Food is tailored precisely to our individual body and lifestyle, and helps to prevent us from becoming ill. Hyper-personalised nutrition is the norm.
We’re provided with suggestions on what to eat each day based on our DNA, gut flora data, health information from wearable devices and all sorts of (implantable and external) sensors, our food inventory at home, and our activities planned for that particular day. Healthcare professionals use food as preventive healthcare, with the food and health sectors working closely together and exchanging their knowledge intensively.
The result is hyper-personalised food that can even work as medicine, helping to prevent and cure obesity and numerous chronic illnesses, including heart diseases and diabetes.
Read more about hyper-personalised food
In 2050, the Netherlands acts as the digital-enabled food operator for running food production operations across multiple countries.
Farm operations are carried out virtually and through a combination of robots and human intervention. Farming efficiency is exceptional due to AI, an abundance of data and, consequently, the ability to act immediately.
Due to genome-based enhancements and precision farming, maximal yields are realised while operating in synergy with the environment and helping nature flourish through regenerative agriculture. Innovative farms are supplemented by self-sufficient vertical farms in and on our apartment buildings.
The Netherlands runs the world’s most successful ‘meat plant’ valley, where innovations are continuously explored.
Traditional animal-based proteins are, to a significant part, replaced by cell-based and precision-fermented proteins, all produced in so-called ‘meat plants’.
Using stem cells, factories produce animal protein, requiring just a fraction of land and creating a fraction of pollution compared to traditionally produced animal protein – while at the same time being healthier, cheaper and tastier. The Netherlands runs the world’s most successful ‘meat plant’ valley, where innovations linked to taste and texture, as well as health benefits, are continuously explored.
There are still occasions where a traditional piece of animal meat is consumed. Since food prices reflect the true cost, this type of meat is now more expensive, and therefore mainly consumed as a treat rather than a commodity.
Read more about responsible food production
The amount of food waste in 2050 is reduced to zero.
Due to a holistic and granular view of the food chain, there’s an integrated waste value chain across industries. As a result, targeted interventions and precise demand forecasts are possible, and food waste and loss is reduced to zero.
Innovations are plentiful. Smart fridges and sensors in packaging warn us if a product is in danger of spoiling. Our toilets safely extract nutrients from human excrement, which in turn become fertiliser to support agriculture. And AI algorithms discover which proteins in waste can be recycled.
Recipe for the food system of 2050
To achieve a sustainable, social, fair, healthy and animal-friendly future of food, we must opt for a system that does not allow for any compromise. And that’s also resilient to withstand global events, has shorter supply chains, and includes regionalised production.
According to Randy Jagt, Global Future of Food Lead and a partner at Deloitte, there are three key principles.
Companies should focus now on new business models. "Be bold, be brave and be scalable. Aim for at least 30 percent of your business value to be coming from new and disruptive businesses opportunities. Identify the most attractive new food value spaces to play in and start to develop capabilities. And establish a business model to ensure a viable future."
An ecosystem and platform approach must be adopted as soon as possible to capture synergies from working together. "Collaborate across the ecosystem, which includes the health and financial sector, governments and start-ups. This way, new opportunities arise to maximise future impact."
Finally, data platforms and analytics capabilities must be established in order to realise necessary insights for personalisation, ecosystem cooperation and food system optimisation. Data from farmers, about consumers, and about the impact of nutrition on health, becomes the new soil. "That’s where new propositions need to be developed and nurtured." Data also provides insights about the progress in each step of the supply chain, causing acceleration in the sustainability transformation.
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Randy Jagt: “As the second largest global exporter of food, the Netherlands is already considered a world leader in food”
“We need to continue to grow, realise and export expertise on how to future-proof the different aspects of our food system, be it production, nutrition, waste management, education or collaboration. Last but not least: we need to encourage even more Dutch companies to become world-leading in the global food system, like ASML is in the semiconductor industry.”
Connect with us
Randy JagtGlobal Future of Food lead+31 (0)6 5008 email@example.com
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