These days many innovations are taking place through and in the food system. There is quite a debate about our food and how it is produced. Although this process is a slow one, more and more consumers are willing to make a conscious choice for healthier and more sustainable food. A healthier food pattern has positive effects on public health and health care costs. A sustainable food pattern has positive effects on the environment and the (city) landscape.
Over the last decades, the food production chain has changed significantly. Agriculture and food production have been further intensified, industrialized and globalized by, among other things, increased trade, innovations and increased prosperity. The power relationships in the food chains have changed. Consumer preferences have changed worldwide for more processed products, more meat and dairy, more sugar and beverages containing sugar. This has consequences for the climate and for the environment. The food system, from production to consumption, contributes greatly (20-30%) to global greenhouse gas emissions and therefore to climate change (UNEP, 2016). In addition, there are food-related public health problems and problems with the quality of the environment.
In order to ensure the availability of adequate, sustainable and healthy food in a healthy environment, adjustments are necessary in the food system. Food transition means that we have to start producing and consuming in a completely different way. This change will not happen overnight. At the same time this development is already in full swing and will continue the coming years. There are now hundreds of small and medium-sized initiatives in the Netherlands that contribute to innovation and more specifically to innovation in food. These initiatives are in line with all kinds of social trends such as comfort, sustainability, perception, animal welfare, digitization, health, individualization, fair trade, exclusivity and back to nature. These innovations in the food world are taking place in many shapes and sizes. In this document an attempt is made to categorize these innovations into the following eight themes: protein transition, urban agriculture, local food, healthy products, customized food, online stores and web platforms, food theme events and food waste. These eight themes are not exclusive because many initiatives relate to more than one themes. However, you will find that each initiative is assigned to one of the themes. Each theme is connected to several innovative initiatives. These initiatives can be found in the tree diagram which is part of the digital document "Voedselinnovaties in Nederland; een greep uit vernieuwende initiatieven”, published in 2016 by Wageningen University.
In the rest of this introduction a brief explanation of the eight themes will follow. Click on one of the pictures to continue:
Further reading: Factsheet Sustainable Food (Nutrition Center, 2017) (in Dutch)
Authors: Marleen Warnaar and Brigitta Methorst, Aeres University of Applied Sciences Almere
Translation Dutch into English: Brigitta Methorst