Report: Connection between food loss, hunger, consumer demand, climate

The world economic forum WEF on Wednesday released a new report to trace hidden connection among food loss, hunger, consumer demand and climate change. According to the report new emerging traceability technologies like IoT sensors, blockchain and food­sensing technologies could by 2030 reduce food loss by 85 million tons according to new research.

The report investigates the role of disruptive technology applications that can effectively help trace inefficiencies in food value chains. It supports the Innovation with a Purpose Platform, which is curated by the World Economic Forum’s System Initiative on Shaping the Future of Food.

“While food security is a global issue, its impacts are all too often hidden”, said the report. Aiming to address global demand for food, “we have created highly complex supply chains that are not transparent and difficult to trace end­ to­ end.”

From food fraud to food­ borne illness and food loss caused by inefficiencies in the supply chain, lack of production and supply chain visibility affects “us all, and it is often the vulnerable and invisible in our society who are the first to suffer.” The World Economic Forum’s new report, Innovation with a Purpose: Improving Traceability in Food Value Chains through Technology investigates the role of disruptive technology applications capable of effectively tracing such inefficiencies in food value chains.

The World Economic Forum’s Innovation with a Purpose Platform is a large­ scale partnership and project accelerator that aims to harness the transformative power of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to better address food­ system challenges.

Essential to the well­ being of people and the planet, food holds a critical role in human societies. But fundamental transformation is needed to attain the aspiration for an inclusive, efficient, sustainable, nutritious and healthy food system. Nearly one­third of global food production is currently wasted, and yet nearly 800 million people are chronically undernourished. In addition, food systems are responsible for 25 per cent of global green house­gas emissions.

The World Health Organization estimates that 600 million people fall ill and 420,000 die each year due to contaminated food. Traceability will address consumer demand for food production transparency and further enhance the ability to identify, respond to and even prevent food safety issues. Furthermore, it could reduce the exposure to outbreak of food risks by making it faster, more efficient and more feasible to identify a source of food contamination precisely, thereby mitigating the impact.

The innovative solutions will build on a range of transformative technologies such as blockchain, internet of things and food­ sensing technologies, and offers a powerful opportunity to improve information about the provenance, safety, efficiency and sustainability of food and food supplies.

The report also identifies several areas for collaboration with a focus on “pathways to scale” ­ policies, standards and economic models ­ that help support the inclusive scaling of new food related technology solutions that are critical to support global poverty alleviation goals.