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Food and Beverages | Tuesday, August 09, 2022
2022 is a transformative year for food innovation, with significant milestones for game-changing innovations such as cultured meat and other low-footprint items reaching store shelves.
FREMONT, CA: If the word for 2021 was unpredictability, 2022's word is impermanence. The food system is in trouble due to rising food prices, persistent supply chain issues, decade-high inflation, workforce shortages due to Covid and working conditions, and the climate. McKinsey believes that 73 million jobs, including those in the food production and manufacturing industries, will be lost to automation by 2030.
To endure these combining crises, human rights and global health are moving to the center of the plate. From food policy to innovation and investment, these factors influenced the top forecasts for 2022.
Profitable is the Pursuit of Zero Food Waste: Creative ideas have existed for years, but it has been challenging to scale zero-waste solutions. Frequently, the economics did not work out. Businesses and individuals in California are required by California Senate Bill 1383 to separate organic material, and those who do not comply are subject to fines. New legislation in California, where, according to the LA Times, "composting is the next climate battle," may change this. Landfill methane emissions are a major factor in climate change.
If this is the coal mine canary, innovation may be possible. Food rescue startup Goodr, for example, uses proprietary technology and data to link extra food with those in need.
Food System "Re-Regionalization": A growing number of people desire to know the origin of their food and verify its origin. In 2020 and 2021, farm subscription programs or "CSAs" for produce and meat experienced unprecedented growth. With growing food and freight costs and food shortages, purchasing becomes more economical and appealing.
It benefits farmers as well. Despite a 20 percent increase in meat costs, ranchers earn less than before. Accessing processing capacity and controlling more of their supply chain is notoriously challenging for small-scale farmers. For instance, Tyson, Cargill, JBS, and National Meatpacking, the four primary meat packers, control 85 percent of the industry. To re-regionalize the food system, however, infrastructure is needed. President Biden recently proposed a $1 billion investment in regional meat processors; this infrastructure bill might help startups like Southwest Black Ranchers and 99 Counties handle the market potential.
Workforce Mobilization and Vacancies Encourage Alternative Methods: Due to a slowdown in immigration, unions challenging job conditions and salaries, and workers quitting, labor shortages persist. Business leaders and regulators must confront an environment that has failed to provide workers with the necessary safety and safeguards to continue producing food on farms, factories, and food service establishments.
There were several notable mobilizations in the food business in 2021, including the Kellogg employees' strike and the first Starbucks workers unionization in Buffalo, New York, to name a few. It is well-established that minimum wage occupations cannot meet basic needs. Alternative, such as the ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan), allow employees to generate intergenerational wealth by acquiring ownership of their own company. Investors like Apis and Heritage, funded by Rockefeller and the Skoll Foundation, subsidize the transition to ESOP for enterprises with a disproportionate number of employees of color. This is an area to monitor.