Sustainability in the food industry

12 June 2018


Over the past few years, the world has started to realise that our lifestyles are causing serious environmental problems. Air pollution, plastic waste and the consumption of natural resources are all causes of the problems. However, many people still do not know that the food industry is a big player in the environmental downfall. Luckily, there are also a lot of people who are aware of this issue, and sustainability in the food industry is finally a big trend. A few points of interest and how you can help with this issue are mentioned below.


One of the most obvious points of improvement is waste. In the EU only, 90 million tonnes of food are wasted annually. But not only the waste of food itself is a big problem, the packaging of food is also an issue that has to be solved. Research tells us that over 95 percent of the environmental impact of packaging comes from the production of it. Therefore, focus should be on the reduction of material, as well as an increase of recycled products.


Agriculture is the largest source of the environmental impact from the food industry, and one of the biggest topics for sustainability in the food industry that needs improvement. It is estimated that around 33% of the human-induced greenhouse gas emissions comes from the agricultural production. Furthermore, agriculture is the largest user of water worldwide, and only 45% of the irrigation water that is being used in agriculture is used effectively. To improve sustainability in the food industry the adaptation of several water saving technologies such as micro-irrigation and water harvesting could be implemented.

Low impact foods

A third point of interest, but not so romantic, is the consumption of low environmental impact foods. The world’s population is increasing every second, while the food supply is not increasing at the same level. Therefore, the food industry is forced to find new, more environmentally friendly food products, and ways to produce bigger amounts and more nutritious foods. One of the possibilities to do so is the consumption of for example edible insects. Most people don’t dare touching them, however, insects are filled with proteins, vitamins and animo acids. And, more importantly, they have a small impact on the environment.

What can you do?

There are several ways an individual can help to improve the sustainability. Eating more biological foods, eating less meat or eating local food would be a good start. In the future being open to different types of foods, such as insects, but also 3D printed foods is something to keep in mind. Furthermore, realising the problems, and being aware of what you eat, and what you waste, could make a difference.

Improve the sustainability in the food industry

As the world’s population is increasing, and therefore the food consumption as well, it is key that the food industry becomes more sustainable. Reducing our waste, the implementation of water saving techniques, reducing GHG emissions and eating low environmental impact foods are just a few of the topics that improves the sustainability in the food industry. And even though the food industry is the industry that needs to make the big changes, every individual that becomes more aware of the problems and changes its eating patterns, can make a difference.

Image by  petrmalinak/Shutterstock