Digital innovations to create increasingly sustainable food systems

In an era of great climate, economic, political, social and demographic changes, technology is now part of our daily life. But will digital innovation also improve the food industry? That digital is working in the agri-food chain is now a matter of fact, and the use of drones, big data and agriculture 4.0 (which could be defined as precision agriculture) are proof of it. 

The future prospects concern the enhancement of the production and distribution of food with the use of digital innovations that will also, hopefully, allow for a food waste reduction. The collaboration between farmers and technology leaders will therefore be of fundamental importance in order to achieve the goal of a sustainable industry. 

Let’s see some interesting data, last year the value of digital innovation for the agri-food world reached 7.8 billion dollars, thus exceeding the 2017 value by 11%. Italy also experienced a significant growth in the sector, 350% more than in 2017 and 22% more than in 2018, this was also possible thanks to the use of 450 million euros in private and public investments. 

On December 1, the virtual event “Resetting the Food System from Farm to Fork – Setting the Stage for UN 2021 FOOD Systems Summit” was broadcast. It has been promoted by the Barilla Foundation in collaboration with FoodTank to discuss some possible alternatives for a more sustainable food system able to achieve both the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN. The meeting was attended by more than 30 experts including: David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Program (WFP – Nobel Peace Prize 2020); Janusz Wojciechowski, European Commissioner for Agriculture; Jannes Maes, president of the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA), Edie Mukiibi, vice president of Slow Food International and Didier Toubia, Co-Founder and CEO of Aleph Farms. Aleph Farms is an Israeli company that produces meat directly from cow cells and is committed to creating a platform to produce the product in large quantities, thus ensuring a competitive price that will be accessible to everyone. The success of this challenge would certainly encourage the fight against climate change by reducing livestock emissions and would launch a totally cruelty free product on the market. 

“Will technology be the engine for rethinking food systems?” is one of the in-depth panels discussed during the event which addressed the theme of innovation and as stated in the press release: “the world of agri-food is still too little digitised. The “Internet of things” has the potential to bring about a real revolution. Technology, policy and venture capital experts will discuss how the food system can exploit technological innovation – starting from the digitization of information and the creation of data exchange networks and good practices – both in the business field and in urban and peri-urban contexts , to promote healthier and more aware food choices”. 

In the next years, perhaps, we will have the opportunity to witness important innovations in the technological and digital fields that will thus be able to create increasingly sustainable food systems. 

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