Edible Innovation: How Agribusiness Can Lead To Social, Environmental And Economic Improvements

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Edible Innovation: How Agribusiness Can Lead To Social, Environmental And Economic Improvements

From Singapore to the USA and all around Europe, Edible Innovations profiles food makers that engage in improving the global food system at every stage, from production to distribution to eating and shopping. Join us as we explore the main trends in the industry from a maker perspective. Chiara Cecchini of Future Food Institute — an ecosystem with a strong educational core that promotes food innovation as a key tool to tackle the great challenges of the future — introduces you to the faces, stories, and experiences of food makers around the globe. 

Innovation is seen as a driver for the agribusiness sector in many countries that must increase production to help keep up with the demands of a continually growing population. Family farmers around the world, who already shoulder the burden of producing around 80% of the world’s food, depend on innovation to feed the future.
Innovation must be recognised as being the central driving force which will transform food systems, lift family farmers out of poverty and help the world to achieve food security, sustainable agriculture and the sustainable development goals. The innovation in tools, processes and technologies that helps support these goals and the makers that put them into place should be recognised and rewarded for their efforts to overcome the challenges faced by the agricultural sector both in Europe and in developing countries.

This is why at Future Food Institute we started working with UNIDO to create and promote the International Award for Innovative Ideas and Technologies in Agribusiness which is now in its third year. The international contest is aimed at identifying the latest ideas and the adoption of new innovations to support the agribusiness sector that could lead to social, environmental and economic improvements if implemented in developing countries. Makers from all over the word are applying to promote new solutions and upgrade food security and safety requirements in developing countries.

Few examples from the past editions?

Demetra is one of the winning projects of last year’s award, which allows fruit to be stored at higher temperatures and for a longer period, thus ensuring a 30% decrease in storage energy consumption and about a 50% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, the fruit shelf life is extended and the product remains marketable and edible for longer. Demetra’s treatment prevents the onset of common physio- and phytopathology, such as infection, oxidative stresses and cold damages, in a 100% natural way, hence being environmentally sustainable and also compatible with organic agriculture.

The other winner lat year was Coffee Flour. Based in Seattle, Coffee Flour is the idea of a maker, Dan Belliveau, who aimed to make clever use of the coffee waste by drying and milling the cherries into a nutritionally-dense four. “Coffee Flour” is made from the pulp and skin of the coffee cherry that is typically discarded during coffee milling operations.

Coffee Flour developed a three-tiered approach aimed at addressing environmental, economic and health challenges. Firstly, by removing coffee pulp waste, the project will guarantee environmental gains, as such waste, even when composted, emits methane and is responsible for 50% of the carbon footprint associated with producing one kilogram of green coffee. Secondly, Coffee Flour’s business model, thanks to the downstream value created from the pulp, contributes to increasing smallholder incomes by 10-20% and employment to manage drying, cleaning, and shipping logistics at the local mills in coffee-producing communities. Finally, Coffee Flour is high in fiber, micronutrients, and antioxidants. As an ingredient, it improves the nutritional profile of the foods into which it is integrated, including locally available foods. Its nutritional impact is further compounded through the increases in income, which enable more diverse diets for the family.

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Applications must be received by 31st March 2019, and you can find out more about the awards and its benefits for the global food makers community here!

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Chiara is fascinated by food as a means to impact bodies, minds, and environment. She has studied international business in three different countries, and is an alumni of the Food Innovation Program and US Director at the Future Food Institute.

Based in California, she is also a Research Scholar at Food Science and Technology at UC Davis, working on building the first comprehensive Internet of Food to enable food care through food systems semantics. She is a selected member of Barilla Center Food Nutrition Foundation, a Research Affiliate at Institute For The Future, Board Member at Maker Faire and selected member of the Global Shapers, a young global network of innovators promoted by the World Economic Forum.

She is passionate about social entrepreneurship and impact investing, and aims to leave her mark on society.

View more articles by Chiara Cecchini