Profiles in Sustainable Food Technology

August 19, 2013

CHICAGO—The world population is slated to reach nine billion by the year 2050 and with the demands of a growing population comes the need for a sustainable food supply. The August issue of Food Technology magazine published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) includes an article about the SAI Platform (Sustainable Agriculture Initiative), a global initiative helping food and drink companies achieve sustainable production and sourcing of raw agricultural materials.

Sustainable sourcing of raw agricultural materials refers to the procurement of raw materials in a way that is observant of environmental, social and economic well-being. The SAI Platform brings together members who share knowledge and initiatives to support sustainable agricultural practices. Currently there are over 50 global members, collaborating with millions of farmers worldwide who have the potential to influence sustainable farming practices in every agricultural producing country.

The Food Technology article highlights three case studies lead by three different companies that are members of the SAI Platform.

Unilever is a founding member of the SAI Platform and has found that a significant way to support farmers in achieving sustainable practices is through investment. The projects supported by the fund focus on the following areas: farmer-led experiments for new knowledge; biodiversity projects within a landscape/area or group of suppliers in the area; efforts to ensure water resources are protected and sustainable; and initiatives that phase out most toxic pesticides. The company announced that now Unilever is sourcing more than one-third of its raw agricultural materials sustainably.

FrieslandCampina, a manufacturer and supplier of dairy products has set a number of goals concerning sustainability to obtain by 2020. This includes reducing the use of antibiotics to a lower level, maintaining current levels of outdoor grazing, complying with legislation for manure phosphates, achieving a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gases from 1990 to 2020, reducing animal health issues to natural levels, achieving 100 percent soy in cattle feed by 2015; and recognizing the role of the farmer in the management and maintenance of the landscape.

Heineken started exploring sustainable barley cultivation early in 2002 with only 10 farmers, and by 2006 50 additional farmers had joined, all becoming members of the Skylark Association. The Skylark approach is collaborative, with participants like Heineken, Cargill, CSM and more sharing areas of expertise and skill to provide advice on agricultural topics such as soil fertility, fertilization, and crop protection. The Skylark Foundation now works with 367 farmers in 35 region groups, and has 25 supply chain partners, 13 donors and 10 agricultural and business advisory organizations.

Read the full Food Technology article here

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For more than 70 years, IFT has existed to advance the science of food. Our nonprofit scientific society—more than 18,000 members from more than 100 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professions from academia, government, and industry. For more information, please visit ift.org.

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