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The Future of Food – Striving for healthy people and a healthy planet

In this report, we look at some themes shaping the future of the food industry. We also discuss some key areas to drive improvements in human health and planet health.

May 2023

Innovation key to alleviating the strain on the food ecosystem

As a result of the increasing pressure to manage a finite resource (i.e. the planet) combined with a growing appetite to lead healthier lifestyles, the pressure on the Food and Beverage industry to innovate has never been greater. By 2050, with the global population expected to reach 10bn, we will need to produce c.60% more food. Since 1960, while the global population more than doubled, food production managed to triple while using only 15% more land. But at what cost? The impact on human health – obesity, the impact on our planet – climate change.

Current food production system is damaging our planet

Food production is the 2nd largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions (c.24%) ranking just behind electricity & heat production (c.25%). Reducing food waste (1/3rd of all food produced is lost/wasted), is also an important factor in protecting the planet. It is imperative that we adapt farming practices, as deforestation is not a viable or sustainable long-term solution. On current forecasts, by 2050, we will be dealing with scarce levels of land, water, and energy to meet the food production requirements outlined above.

Human health an issue with the rising level of obesity

It is estimated that c.40% of the global population (age 5+) is classified as obese or overweight. This is nearly double from what it was 15 years ago and is forecast to reach over 50% by 2035. Obesity has a direct impact on personal health, as well as an economic impact due to associated healthcare costs. According to the World Obesity Federation, the economic impact reduces annual global GDP by 2.4%. To put into an Irish context, the annual impact from individuals being overweight/obese to the economy is c.1.8% of GDP, or c.€2,600 per person.

Key areas to drive improvements in human health and planet health

The sustainability of our food production systems has become even more prevalent post the pandemic and the Ukraine conflict, with food security more in focus. In this report we discuss several key themes that can help deal with the challenges both from a human health and planet health perspective. These include: 

  • Maximising output - new and improved farming practises;
  • Minimising losses - reducing food waste; and
  • Improving health outcomes.

Capital markets play an important role in funding sustainable solutions 

The capital markets, both debt and equity, has shown a willingness to support companies that demonstrate a strong ESG-focused strategy, particularly when a positive environmental and social impact can be achieved. Financing the transition to net zero will require US$4-5 trillion of annual investment, and given the emissions from food production, the F&B sector sits firmly in the middle of the issue. 

Click here to read the full report. 

If you would like to discuss any of these themes, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Goodbody Food and Beverage team:

Jason Molins, Food and Beverage Analyst
+353 1 641 9141 E [email protected]

Patrick Higgins, Food and Beverage Analyst
+353 1 641 0403 E [email protected]

Fintan Ryan, Consumer Equity Research Analyst
+44 74 078 73369 E [email protected]

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